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By Ian Tartt
President Trump, I am writing this as a concerned citizen. The responses from several countries to the missiles launched at a Syrian airfield have got many people, including myself, thinking that we’re on the verge of a major war, and perhaps even a nuclear war. Over the course of this article, I will share some of my thoughts as to why I hope that doesn’t come to pass.
As a libertarian, I disagree with most of your proposed policies. Some of them, such as cutting excessive regulations and lowering taxes, are fantastic and well worth pursuing. But if nuclear war becomes a reality, those policies will become meaningless. Likewise, your goal to “Make America Great Again” also becomes meaningless in the event of nuclear war. Think about all the poor and middle class people who you said you’d help get good jobs, protect from criminals and terrorists, and create an environment in which they can try to live the “American Dream.” They would lose everything in the event of a nuclear war, as would most other people on Earth.
Let’s suppose for a second that nuclear war doesn’t happen and in its place is another major war, perhaps even World War III. The First World War saw 116,516 Americans killed; by the end of World War II, 405,399 Americans were dead. With modern weaponry, the death toll for World War III could be even higher. Altogether, more than 1 million Americans have died as a result of war. Any American who dies in war loses the opportunity to live out his dreams.
In addition to the lost lives and lost dreams, there is the expense of war. Military spending in fiscal year 2015 was just under $600 billion. Every dollar that’s not needed for national defense is a dollar that could have been better spent elsewhere. As a result, excessive spending in any area leads to a lower quality of life for the average person. If everyone could keep more of their own money and spend it as they see fit, they would be happier and better off than they are now.
Then there is the national debt and related matters. Interest on the national debt has consistently cost more than $400 billion over the past several years, and the debt itself continues to climb ever higher; at the time of this writing, it’s just under $20 trillion.
The money to pay the interest has to come from somewhere. If it comes from taxation, then taxpayers have an enormous burden to bear. If it comes from inflating the money supply, then the purchasing power of the dollar goes down and prices will rise, which hits the poor and middle class the hardest. And borrowing money to pay the interest on borrowed money wouldn’t make any sense. Reducing spending wherever possible and selling federal commodities to help pay down the debt would fit in nicely with your proposal to cut taxes across the board. But maintaining or increasing current spending levels while reducing taxes leads to deficit spending and even more debt, which further increases the burden of future generations.
As president, I hope you will do whatever you can to avoid another major war. This is something we simply can’t afford, no matter how we look at it. And I don’t believe you want to be remembered by future generations as the president who started World War III, or by future survivors as the president who started the first and only nuclear war. That’s all I have to say about this subject.