Guest opinion: Limited government precludes aid to Israel
For well over a half a century, conservatives and Republicans have been clamoring for “limited government.” They have yearned to restore a pre-World War I era when taxes were very low and the U.S. government avoided entangling alliances, pursued a foreign policy like the founders envisioned and did not seek global leadership. In recent decades, limited-government advocate Grover Norquist has sought to make the U.S. government so small it could be “drowned in a bathtub.” Of course, if the U.S. government was that small, it would not give one dime to Israel.
But the U.S. government has been giving Israel $3.8 billion annually. This is over $400 per capita for every Israeli. U.S. foreign aid is generally dispensed quarterly. However, Israel gets all its money at the very beginning of the fiscal year. That costs taxpayers $50 million to $60 million in interest annually.
Former congressman Ron Paul pointed out the incompatibility of giving large quantities of aid to Israel while simultaneously proclaiming oneself as a small government low taxes person. Precisely because the U.S. gives billions annually to Israel the U.S. has to give large sums of aid to Israel’s neighbors. Just as it would be extremely problematic for a parent to give a huge gift to one child and nothing to their other children, so also the United States can’t give billions to Israel without giving money to Egypt and Jordan, etc. Moreover, this principle has applicability to U.S. domestic politics: How can U.S. taxpayers — many of which cannot afford health care — give billions to a nation which entitles its citizens to enjoy the benefits of socialized medicine. (In the past, Israel had prime ministers and leaders who were socialists, and its citizens now have many benefits that many lack.)
U.S. support for Israel goes far beyond giving them money. Forty years ago, on Oct. 23, 1983, one terrorist with a truckload of bombs killed 241 U.S. military personnel supporting the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. Only one day (Jan. 31, 1968) in all of Vietnam was more deadly than that day for U.S. troops. In addition to being deadly, it was humiliating. Initially, President Ronald Reagan responded with rhetoric reminiscent of Winston Churchill. But only months later, there was an ignominious retreat and withdrawal and a commentator noted that “one man drove the U.S. military out of Lebanon.”
Sadly, a strong case can be made that 9/11 would not have happened without our entangling alliance with Israel. To support Israel’s allies in Lebanon in 1982-4, Reagan ordered the U.S. Sixth fleet to shoot their 16-inch guns at coastal towers. In a statement released Oct. 29, 2004, the fanatic and murderous Osama bin Laden plausibly claimed that 9/11 was payback for Reagan’s killing of innocent civilians in the attacks in Lebanon’s towers.
Today, some warhawks, such as Lindsey Graham, even want to risk war with Iran to protect Israel. War is completely incompatible with low taxes. During World War II, President Roosevelt — the most successful politician in all U.S. history — called for a tax of 100% of every single dollar over $25,000. (Adjusting for inflation, that’s about $400,000 today.) Congress felt that 100% was excessive; they made the top tax rate 94% and it stayed over 90% for the next 20 years until the Kennedy-Johnson tax cuts reduced it. The country recognized that imposing that level of sacrifice on rich people was still considerably less than what was asked of the young men who were ordered to charge at enemy machine guns. Wars normalized top tax rates of over 90%.
It is humanly impossible for an informed individual to do more than two of the three of the following:
1. Advocate for small limited government and low taxes.
2. Support the extremely entangling alliance with Israel, which annually costs U.S. taxpayers billions.
3. Maintain personal integrity.
Rick Jones is a retired adjunct teacher of economics from Weber State.