US Taxpayers Have Been Funding Big Business’s Wars for 233 YearsRoundup
tags: business, war, American History, tax
Barbara G. Ellis, Ph.D., is the principal of a Portland, Oregon, writing/PR firm. A veteran writer and editor (LIFE Magazine, Washington Evening Star, Beirut Daily Star, Mideast Magazine), Ellis also has been a long-time journalism professor at Oregon State University and Louisiana’s McNeese State University, and was a nominee for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in history (“The Moving Appeal”). She is a contributor to Truthout, Counterpunch, Dissident Voice and Global Research, as well as being a political and environmental activist.
Since 1786, Congress has authorized subsidies to Big Business’s demand that US troops protect their unending drive to seize and exploit a weaker country’s raw resources or to monopolize overseas marketing.
This centuries-old arrangement started in the US after the Revolutionary War in 1784 when heated complaints from business interests about bribes demanded by North Africa’s Barbary States pirates reached Thomas Jefferson, then the ambassador to France. Shippers were too cheap to either use cargo space for cannon or hire pirate brigantines. Yet overland-based merchants voiced no demands for federal protection to deal with pirates hijacking cargoes and passenger plunder. These merchants hired “shotguns” to ride with drivers of wagons and stagecoaches to protect their goods.
But in shippers’ views, piracy was somehow different from highway robbery in principle, seemingly only because of business size and degree of loss. Ergo, large companies working the Mediterranean coast had a greater right to demand taxpayer protection because of those familiar claims of contribution to the US economy — jobs, raw-material purchases, expansion, import trade. That somehow made shippers’ interests “national interests” requiring taxpayer protection — cost-free to the shippers themselves, of course.
Just how that was to be accomplished with no navy or standing army was ignored. So was the fact that taxes had just started to fill the Treasury of an infant nation prostrated by the Revolution’s costs and a public with near-empty pocketbooks. The whiskey excise tax was not the only revenue-raiser that set off protests.
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