In the build-up to World War I Congress made the connection explicit. "The luxury of a large standing army and a great navy," said Congressman Warren Worth Bailey of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, should be "supported by those whose interests demand that kind of army and navy." (“Jingoes should pay for jingoism,” he added.) In justifying his plan to finance America’s entry into World War II, Franklin Roosevelt declared that sacrifice in the cause of freedom is a “privilege”, and that he believed in “equality of privilege.” Accordingly, FDR’s plan included a continued estate tax, as well as income tax rates that, at the very top brackets, went as high as 90%.
That ethos prevailed until the junior Bush years. Now, for the first time, we have a president who cuts taxes in time of war – and who cuts them especially for those who are least inclined to have children serving. The President somehow wraps his mind in the imagery of sacrifice and honor. In his inner drama he is a lonely Churchill facing the foe his adversaries lack the mettle to acknowledge. But in reality he is breaking out a keg for his fellow sons and daughters of privilege, while others do the fighting.
This is a true Me Generation presidency, and as such a bookend to the Clinton years. Where Clinton’s self-indulgence was personal and sensual, Bush’s has to do with wealth and class. It’s a different version of the same thing, and affects a lot more people.
In the midst of two wars pretty much none of us except those who fight have been asked to sacrifice in anyway, but some have been asked to sacrifice less than others, and still others have even had benefits bestowed upon them. We would do well to remember that this is all deliberate policy on the part of the Bush administration. It's easier to get the wars you want and easier to win elections when you don't ask anything of anybody...except the soldiers that die in those wars and the families that grieve for them.