Just weeks before Tax Day, April 15, Governor Deval Patrick, Obama’s "close friend," signed into law a bond bill that dispenses $177 million in Massachusetts State Taxes to the Pentagon for construction and "upgrades" of U.S. military bases in the state. That’s right, not federal taxes but state taxes.
On April 15, last year, the federal govt. collected over $1 trillion in personal income taxes (actually about $1.4 trillion). The Pentagon will get about $600 billion this coming year, and along with the CIA, NSA, the costs of overseas wars as in Iraq, Libya, Syria and now Ukraine, the bill for the imperial-military complex, also called the "national security" budget will come to about $1 trillion. That is over $3000 for each man, woman and child in the US! Does not the war machine get enough as it swills down at the federal trough, without gouging us at the state level?
Meanwhile cities and towns are in dire need of more state aid for schools and other crucial spending, like ravaged roads, crumbling bridges and decaying senior centers. Taxes have been raised in many cities and towns because of the lack of such funds from state coffers, further burdening the taxpayers.
But it is worse; Massachusetts is not alone. Similar legislation, for $40 million, has already been enacted in Connecticut for the Naval Submarine Base in Groton. And there is rumor that similar legislation has been proposed in other states. Thus the $40 million in Connecticut and the $177 million in Massachusetts may well serve as pilots for more giveaways by other states. In fact it is likely that states which refuse to pony up may be threatened with loss of their military bases and the jobs that go with them, setting off an unseemly bidding war to house the machinery of death and destruction.
Still worse, the bill in Massachusetts passed 150-0 without any opposition voiced in the House and with only two nay votes in the Senate which houses 40 members. It scarcely needs to be pointed out that the Mass. Legislature is almost exclusively Democrat and that many of these Dems tell their liberal constituents that they are against the war on Iraq and Afghanistan – or at least they were while Bush was in office.
The technique of guaranteeing passage of the bill was tried and true, with beneficiary military installations located in many locations across the state, guaranteeing that some substantial pork would come to a neighborhood near many legislators or their buddies. The installations covered are: Westover Air Force Base, Barnes Air National Guard Base, Natick Soldiers Systems Center, Fort Devens, Hanscom Air Force Base, and the Massachusetts Military Reservation.
$177 is no chump change as Senator Tarr said, when he introduced the bill for fleeting "debate" in the Senate: "These capital dollars, this is (sic) unprecedented in its magnitude." That, by the way was, supposed to be praise, not condemnation, of this latest bit of robbery. And of course the most corrupt form of government spending next to the Pentagon, CIA, NSA, etc. is construction where many hands are inevitably in the till up to their elbows. The state where the very leaky Big Dig had huge cost overruns and the Brothers Bulger reigned supreme is no stranger to such thievery. Finally you can bet that, once the Pentagon gobbles up this first tribute, they will hunger for more – and more and more.
Now let us give credit where credit is due. Senators Patricia Jehlen and James Eldridge, both liberal Democrats, were the sole two aforementioned nay votes in the entire legislature. With these exceptions the brief Senate debate heard only perfervid expressions of patriotism and huzzahs all around for the "men in uniform," as the lawmakers casually dispensed the taxpayer’s hard earned dollars to the bloated Pentagon.
A personal disappointment to this writer was the yes vote of my own Representative in Cambridge, Democrat Marjorie Decker, who has cultivated a reputation as a peacenik, a reputation no longer deserved. Equally disappointing was the yes vote of the supposedly libertarian, Republican, "antitax" Senator Robert Hedlund and the two GOP reps in the House who have enjoyed libertarian backing. Here we have them throwing away tax dollars and propping up an imperial war machine, both of which ought to be anathema to rock-ribbed libertarian Republicans. The progressive peace organizations and the Ron Paul libertarians must cut off support to those who betray them on an important issue like this; otherwise they will be seen as patsies. Severe punishment for foul legislative deeds is warranted, and it is effective politics.
There was virtually no mention of this bill in the liberal mainstream media here in Massachusetts, until we were going to press with this article. The Boston Globe on April 27, finally ran a piece which diverted attention from the central issue, the squandering of millions on the Pentagon, to the sleazy "lobbying" efforts of Governor Patrick’s former chief of staff, Mo Cowan. But the Globe article is worth reading simply to see how pervasive and rotten the elite network of politicians and military contractors remains in the great Bay State. As far as the progressive organizations go, Mass Peace Action, almost a wholly owned subsidiary of the Dem Party, repeatedly whimpered about "transparency" and "accountability" more than the money grab itself. To these timid folks it seems theft is just fine so long as it occurs in broad daylight. More important they have known about this for many months but have mounted no campaign against this bill! An inquiry from this writer to Massachusetts Action went unanswered. Nor was there anything to be heard from the libertarian corner on the issue.
With the deposit of this legislation an unseemly stench wafts up from the Cradle of Liberty. The bill should not simply be made more "transparent"; it should be rescinded – period. And other states should be on the lookout for similar bills. Such scams provide an opportunity to take on the "National Security State" at the state level where the ordinary voter has more power, simply because we are in closer proximity to state government and because there are mechanisms like popular referenda that do not exist nationally.
Pentagon spending is not growing fast enough for the rapacious imperial elite, and they will be looking for new avenues whereby to fleece the taxpayer. Deval Patrick, MO Cowan and the co-conspiring lawmakers may have handed the citizens a new form of robbery, which is likely to be visited on taxpayers from Massachusetts’s shore to the other shining shore.
John V. Walsh writes for Antiwar.com, CounterPunch.com, The Unz Review and DissidentVoice.org. By day he has toiled away on the physiology of neurons and other excitable cells. He would like to hear from those who have detected a similar scam in their state. He can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com