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Taxing Wars

Nonfiction: Business & Economics; Politics & Current Events
Unabridged   9 hour(s)
Publication date: 12/25/2018

Taxing Wars

The American Way of War Finance and the Decline of Democracy

Available from major retailers or BUY FROM AMAZON
Audio CD ISBN:9781684415861
Digital Download ISBN:9781684415878


Taxing Wars suggests that the burden in blood is just one side of the coin. The way Americans bear the burden in treasure has also changed, and these changes have both eroded accountability and contributed to the phenomenon of perpetual war.

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Product Description

Sarah Kreps chronicles the entire history of how America has paid for its wars—and how its methods have changed. Early on, the United States imposed war taxes that both demanded sacrifices from all Americans and served as reminders of their participation. Indeed, thinkers from Immanuel Kant to Adam Smith argued that these reminders were exactly the reason why democracies tended to fight shorter and less costly wars. Bearing these burdens caused the populace to sue for peace when the costs mounted. Leaders in a democracy, responsive to their citizens, would have incentives to heed that opposition and bring wars to as expeditious an end as possible.

Since the Korean War, the United States has increasingly moved away from war taxes. Instead, borrowing—and its comparatively less visible connection with the war—has become a permanent feature of contemporary wars. The move serves leaders well because reducing the apparent burden of war has helped mute public opposition and any decision-making constraints. But by masking accountability, however, the move away from war taxes undermines the basis for democratic restraint in wartime. Contemporary wars have become correspondingly longer and costlier as the public has become disconnected from those burdens.

Author Bio

Sarah Kreps is Associate Professor of Government and Adjunct Professor of Law at Cornell University. She has written numerous books and academic articles on international security, military technology, and the political economy of security. Kreps served in the U.S. Air Force and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.