10 August 2006

Your dollars at work

Ever have one of those insights where you’re going along doing or saying something and all of a sudden you get an “ah-ha” moment? I had one of those tonight, in the midst of a presentation on the current conflict in Lebanon - my faith community asked me to speak to a gathering, based on my experience covering the Lebanon desk in the Conflict Resolution Program at The Carter Presidential Center many moons ago.

So here’s my insight – perhaps some of you will find it glaringly obvious, but I have yet to hear this idea put quite this way in the media anywhere (maybe I should forward this post to Tom Friedman?). If you are among my American readers, you are supporting both sides of the current conflict in Lebanon with your dollars.

How is this, you might ask? First, your tax dollars go to the U.S. government, which gives Israel several billions of dollars of aid each year, from which Israel turns around and purchases weaponry from American defense contractors, with which to wage the current conflict. Second, your dollars purchase gas for your vehicles (and many other petroleum-based products), a portion of which flows to Iran, who uses those dollars to buy weapons to send to Hezbollah, with which to wage the current conflict. And for those of you who might object to whether your gas purchases directly fund Iran, the macroeconomics of commodity markets function such that all sellers benefit from all buyers, whether directly or indirectly.

So there you have it – your dollars buy the weapons for both sides of this conflict. Oh, and as a side note, who profits from your dollars in both instances? American corporations – either the military industrial complex defense contractors or Big Oil. And who ultimately pays the price? Immediately, Lebanese civilians do. In the long run, we all do.

1 comment:

Pete said...

Dan, this is an interesting insight, but the question is what can we do about it? We can't stop paying our taxes, and we can't stop buying gasoline. So, what can we do?