Update on the Previous Post

A few quick things in regards to the previous Beto post:

1.) I am not opposed to a mandatory war tax that would be levied should we declare war. I think that would be a great idea. I think a war tax that only families who are “non-military” that is presented to a voter’s forum composed of vets in a grotesque act of pandering that will be used to fund their health care and kept in some special secret fund is a fucking idiotic idea and deserves to be mocked on multiple levels. Take it a step farther and arms dealers are only allowed to create munitions and weapon systems at 1% above cost during a declared war and take the profit out of it.

2.) I don’t think Beto is a bad person and I think he does indeed have a lot of charisma, but I have been exceptionally underwhelmed by his performances post Senate run- and his policy ideas, particularly when compared to Warren and others are half-baked and more like something that came out of a political jam session. I don’t believe he is ready for the Presidency.

3.) I am not as concerned about a lack of professionalism in the military as many others should we bring back the draft. Maybe having such a professional military is why instead of a last course of action, use of force or threats of use of force are one of the first things we do. Regardless, there would still be a core of volunteers in the full time army, it would just be smaller and we’d actually have take time to build up before waging costly and destructive wars of choice.

4.) I don’t think many of you fully appreciate the extent of the military/civilian divide that is currently the situation in the United States. A good portion of our veterans come out of the service radicalized and honestly do think they are better than the rest of the country. It’s very dangerous.

39 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    I’d like to know more about #4.

  2. 2
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    What is half-baked about his immigration plan?

  3. 3
  4. 4
    John Cole says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Nothing. I like his legalization stuff, too.

  5. 5
    Jeffro says:

    Alert: follow-up post here not needed. Just stick with “this is one dumb idea…Beto isn’t ready for prime-time…and the military/civilian divide is growing, serious, and problematic”. Full stop. No need for lengthy explanations or review.

    Similarly, MSNBC is having a panel to parse Biden’s comments, the blowback, Biden’s response, etc, in addition to starting the Dem-debate-predictions and “noting that trumpov creates problems and then ‘solves’ them. Really – no way!?! I don’t even want to see what’s on CNN. Round and round and round we go.

    We’re all going to die from terminal navel-gazing while the GOP beats us to death with a dead refugee’s thigh bone.

  6. 6
    J R in WV says:

    As a person who enlisted in the US Navy to avoid being drafted into the Marines ( or Army) and sent to the Vietnam War Crimes, I’m pretty torn about the all volunteer Army etc. I’ve come to the point where I think a universal draft of everyone, men, women, everyone who lives to be 19, is probably a good idea, IF people are also allowed to select their area of service, which could include work in nursing homes, parks, in other words non-military tasks.

    It wouldn’t hurt for everyone to complete service prior to enrolling in college, for example, working with people from other places, with different experiences. I can’t believe I’m writing this today, after hating being drafted as much as I did. But I had no choice other than some military duty, or Canada, or jail. And that’s no what I’m supporting here today. I would have enjoyed building trails and cabins in a park, or even helping elderly or disabled folks.

    And really, except for the idiots in charge in the Navy, the work and the sailors I worked with was pretty educational… The Navy took me to two Mardi Gras celebrations in NOLA, also. Torpedoes with cranes, also exciting in a different way.

    ETA: And some draftees will find their task, be it Navy or Park Service, rewarding enough to take it up as a career. That would be a good thing too.

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  8. 8
    tobie says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Or to add to that: what is half-baked about his climate change plan? his reproductive rights plan? his voting rights plan? his LGBTQ rights plan? He’s got 8 fully fleshed out proposals on his website as well as clear and substantial positions on healthcare (Medicare for America), gun control, criminal justice reform, marijuana legalization, etc. John, you’re dealing with the caricature of the candidate, not the candidate himself.

    If anyone’s interested, here’s the proposed scale for the war tax:

    7h7 hours ago
    “Households making less than $30,000 per year would pay $25;
    …less than $40,000… pay $57;
    …less than $50,000…pay $98;
    …less than $75,000…pay $164;
    …less than $100,000…pay $270;
    …less than $200,000…pay $485;
    and those making more than $200,000 would pay $1,000”

  9. 9
    debbie says:

    I agree with #2. Barak Obama was a new face and full of charisma, but he did the hard work of face-to-face interactions with people rather than broadcasting like an influencer.

  10. 10
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    I endorse point #4.

    I did contract work with military people. Many were surprised that, as civilians, we weren’t all hostile to them.

  11. 11
    Miss Bianca says:

    @tobie: His other plans may be great, but the “war tax” plan does suck, and definitely smacks of pandering, to me.

  12. 12
    NotMax says:


    Beto’s no good, terrible, horrible, very bad idea. 99 levels of wrong. Half-baked is giving too much credit to the incubator.

    Aside: Ah, households – so single people living alone get the shaft.

  13. 13
    waratah says:

    If anyone is interested in hearing what Beto’s plan is from Beto himself NBC has an exclusive interview with Garret. Sorry I cannot link but all your questions will be answered..

  14. 14
    NotMax says:

    Seems like an apt place to link to a touch of Brecht & Weill.

  15. 15
    Robert Sneddon says:

    There’s an old and hallowed name for military families which also happens to be the punchline of a joke — “We’ll call them Aristocrats!”

    The barons of old Feudal Europe were military families, they could provide their King with fighting forces and they got the good food and the money and land and education and they never had to hoe a row of potatoes in their lives. I recommend you avoid going down that path in America, or at least retrace your steps a bit (see, for example the McCain military dynasty).

  16. 16
    Ohio Mom says:

    @NotMax: My family would get the shaft too — two oldsters and one autistic 22 yo.

    This could be a game for a long car ride: let’s think of and list all the types of households and families which would be penalized by this cockamamie idea.

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    namekarB says:

    3) I am not as concerned about a lack of professionalism in the military as many others should we bring back the draft.”

    How about adopting the Israeli system. Mandatory military service for men and women upon reaching age 18 (There are methods to exempt oneself)

  19. 19
    tobie says:

    @Miss Bianca: No more pandering than a candidate running around with the President of the American Federation of Teachers announcing a teacher pay hike. The double standards on BJ tonight are astonishing.

    @Miss Bianca: @NotMax: The idea that if we’re going to fight wars, we ought to make sure we care for those we deploy strikes me as sound.@Ohio Mom: I listed the sliding scale families would have to pay were a temporary war tax levied in comment 8. You’ll see they’re rather trivial. Warren’s college plan, by contrast, will cost a family whose children don’t go to college quite a bit. Go figure.

  20. 20
    tobie says:

    I don’t want to beat this (war) horse to death but it turns out there’s an interesting academic study of debt financing of war and social inequality . Money quote:

    The findings suggest that government borrowing to pay for wars leads to greater social inequality in the aftermath of the war. This happens when wars are paid for via general public debt versus a war bond campaign, particularly when combined with indirect taxes (such as sales, value-added, excise, and customs taxes) or a tax cut. Conversely, wars financed via bond campaigns targeted to low- and middle-income populations and direct taxes (such as income, property, and corporate taxes) result in greater social equality.

  21. 21
    NotMax says:


    The idea that if we’re going to fight wars, we ought to make sure we care for those we deploy strikes me as sound.

    We have a process for that – it’s called the budget. An ‘in case of war, break glass’ tax is a horrid, repugnant idea, setting in place a mechanism to automatically roll out which is geared to a state of war being inevitable – a disincentive for doing all we can to avoid a state of war.

  22. 22

    @namekarB: Cuba also has mandatory military or social service of one or two years. The social service is similar to what J R in WV suggested above, such that some serve in parks, nursing homes, etc. But politically, I suspect “the Israeli system” would go over much better than “the Cuban system.”

  23. 23
    tobie says:

    @NotMax: I’m trying to understand your logic but I suspect there is none. if the public were aware of the price of caring for veterans, they’d be less inclined to send troops overseas. There’s nothing Americans hate more than having to pay for something.

  24. 24
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @tobie: The war tax for nonmilitary families is still a bad idea. Like I said in the first thread where it was mentioned, it goes too far down the Starship Troopers road than I think is healthy.

  25. 25

    @Matthew Smith: universal service makes some sense when you’re a small nation surrounded by existential enemies, like Israel now, or Cuba during the Cold War. Our nearest existential enemy is… …Cuba?

  26. 26
    If a Tree Falls says:

    I was 16 years old during the Persian Gulf war. I remember watching CNN with my mother and her telling me that if the war went on long enough, I could end up getting drafted. I told her I wouldn’t go, that if push came to shove, I would maim myself to get out of serving. She asked me, what if everyone did that? My mother, a caring liberal who adores me, nonetheless thought I had a duty to “defend the country”, even if the conflict revolved around chasing a thief away from some other country’s oil fields. The conversation progressed to the point where I told her, “Look, you don’t get it. You’re never going to get drafted. You have nothing to lose.” I could lose you, she said. “You have another son. I only have one life.” Afterwards, I thought about the nitty-gritty details of maiming. Exactly how much damage would I have to inflict on myself to make myself unfit to serve? This was before the age of search engines, so I had to use guesswork. Deafen myself in one ear? How many toes would I have to amputate, and how would I go about doing that?

    The ugly truth is, there are a lot of folks who are willing to send their sons and daughters off to war in the belief that it’s necessary to serve a higher good. And once the killing starts, their support for the war may harden, even if they lose their own kid in the conflict. “Cut and run? Are you telling me that my child died for nothing?” Sometimes yes is the answer to that question. And these are just the good ones. I don’t even want to think about the people who are willing to let the government do damn near anything if it makes them feel safe from a perceived threat. Or the ones that care more about their pride and their property than other people’s life and liberty.

    Instead of sacrificing our children to Moloch, let’s give the war tax a try. Let’s see how “patriotic” the usual suspects are when they’re presented with a bill to pay for their foolishness. Let’s get back to being citizens instead of being consumer-cheerleaders genuflecting to soldiers.

  27. 27
    CatFacts says:

    This plan seems to assume that advisors and congresscritters would actually listen to the public if the public didn’t want to be taxed for a war. That… assumes some facts not in evidence right now, IMO.

  28. 28
    tobie says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Honest question — how’s this any different than giving tax exemptions to families with children but making single people or people without children pay taxes for schools, CHIP, etc?

  29. 29
    annie says:

    “Maybe having such a professional military is why instead of a last course of action, use of force or threats of use of force are one of the first things we do. ”

    This, this this. I remember the Vietnam era very well and I’ve always felt one reason there was such an intense anti-war movement was that nearly everyone had a son, husband/boyfriend, brother or cousin who had to deal with the draft one way or another. Go to Vietnam, dodge, join the National Guard — all draft-age men had to figure that out and so their relatives had a stake in that war too. I don’t know if it could be done but I really do believe that reinstating the draft would provide a check on military adventures.

  30. 30
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @tobie: Well, families with children aren’t getting exemptions from certain types of taxes. If they are filing MFJ or HOH they will pay less in taxes than a single person with the same income, but what they do pay will still be thrown in the general fund.

  31. 31
    TenguPhule says:


    I’d like to know more about #4.

    Same type of folks who join LE and then come out of it as Oathkeepers.

  32. 32
    Searcher says:

    I endorse the idea of fixed profit margins for government suppliers, but boy howdy does that take a lot to pull off.

    Just auditing the books and saying “you received $100 and paid $99 out to input suppliers and workers” isn’t good enough; you’ll quickly find that most of those suppliers are just shell companies pocketing another slice of the profit and passing it back to capital.

    You really need the political will and bureaucratic chops to run the entire supply chain like Walmart, forcing everyone along the way to open their books to you and forcing them to cut, cut, cut out any graft and waste.

    It’s orthogonal, but what I’d really like to see done to the military-industrial-congressional complex, is to switch from the constant production of munitions to paying suppliers to maintain “wartime production readiness”. Rather than continually contracting for more ships, planes and missiles, we pay a smaller amount to industry on a contingency, as a subsidy. Then, at any time, the government goes to one and says, “Now’s the time, here’s $XXX million, build us a battleship in a month, starting from scratch”. And those motherfuckers had better be able to produce, or they lose the readiness-subsidies and we claw back the last year or so, since they obviously weren’t maintaining readiness.

    We didn’t win World Wars based on our existing stocks, we won it based on our ability to produce, a lot, quickly. Producing in advance just means that your fleets are outdated scrap metal before the shooting starts. Moreover, without the material sitting around rusting, there’s less temptation to use it — and an obvious cost to suddenly ramping up for war.

  33. 33
    Feathers says:

    I don’t support this, I think this notion of non-general fund taxes needs to die already.

    However, I think we need to go to pre-filled tax forms (i.e. you get the tax form with all the info the IRS already has entered and the tax owed on that calculated). How much of your taxes is funding the endless war could then be calculated for each household. If there were to be an extra “war surcharge,” you could offer military families a deduction which they could choose to take or not.

    One thing I would do with government contractors is that they would have to reveal all shell companies and their beneficial owners, including for subcontractors, all the way down. For many, there would be issues of classification, but that needs to be information congress has access to.

    Does Elizabeth Warren have a plan for getting rid of tax dodge shell companies? Rhetorical question, really. I’m in my final semester crunch and have plenty of time to do my research before voting next spring.

  34. 34
    dnfree says:

    I come from the Vietnam Era (when I was anti-war), and I agreed 100% with both of John’s posts. I have tons of respect for James Fallows, who among other topics wrote so eloquently about why the Iraq War was going to be a disaster BEFORE it happened. Fallows has written about the military-civilian divide and its dangers. He has also done follow-ups to this article but this was the first in-depth one.


  35. 35
    cliosfanboy says:

    The founding fathers were very suspicious of a large standing military. That’s the reason for the 2d amendment. State militias provided a military that was not available for the executive to use without Congress first approving.

  36. 36
    NotMax says:


    Let’s make this as basic as possible.

    Separating out and penalizing people for not volunteering to join the military is wrong, wrong, wrong.

  37. 37
    Matt McIrvin says:

    The only way a draft could reduce our appetite for war is if it extends to age 80. Drop retirees into combat zones. As usually constructed it’s still old people deciding to send young men to war.

  38. 38
    tobie says:

    @NotMax: Do you pay tax on the money you spend on your health insurance premiums? No. It’s exempted by law. This is the same thing. Military members serving in wars shouldn’t have to pay the premium for the care they’ll likely need when they return. It’s that simple. Yes, it extends to immediate family members, because caring for a veteran exposed to, say, Agent Orange in a hastily called and ill-conceived war kind of ruins your entire life. Maybe, just maybe, if Americans were aware of the price of military action, they wouldn’t be so cavalier about using it.

  39. 39
    DHD says:

    I realize “do what Sweden does” gets a bit tiring after a while, but oh well… they draft everybody (men and women) with the right to choose alternative non-military service. With 200 years of peace and neutrality and a very real threat from Russia (as opposed to the totally fake national security threats that the US complains about constantly) they must be doing something right.

    The Israeli conscription system, by contrast, which is often held in high regard by Americans who don’t know better and some who should, is not a model to be emulated.

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