When's the last time you heard someone argue that we need to raise taxes to fund torture? Or to pay for violent paramilitary raids on peaceful U.S. citizens? Or to incentivize extrajudicial killings carried out by our own government, yes, but also by a neighboring country? Probably never. As every good citizen knows, taxes are for taking care of the poor and the indigent, paying (good) teachers and (good) cops, investing in the future, and making sure the elderly have enough Viagra and cat food to fuel 25 years of post-workforce bingo, golf, and unprotected sex.
But it's also the case that your taxes pay for unquestionably vile things. Incontrovertibly evil things. Plainly awful things. If you're finishing up your taxes today, you should know that the U.S. will spend $14.7 billion of next year's $25.4 billion drug control budget on government-sponsored violence; which means that your tax dollars—even if it's just a fraction of a cent—will make possible acts of state-sponsored terror, torture, and murder.
Here are three ways the government is spending your taxes.
3.) U.S. Taxpayers Are Funding
Abusive Rehab Centers in Totalitarian
More than a quarter of a million people reside in abusive drug treatment centers in China. "Patients" in these facilities spend years doing hard labor without receiving any sort of actual drug counseling or payment for their labor. According to human rights workers interviewed by The Atlantic last year, these drug treatment centers are "compulsory programs staffed with more police officers than doctors." How a drug offender ends up inside one is equally horrific. The Atlantic:
"In China, police can pick up anyone based on profiling, and force them to take a urine test." If the sample comes back positive, he said, "People are then taken straight to a detention center, where they are usually kept for two years or more." Previous detainees' ID cards — used in China for many common activities, like checking into a hotel — are marked, and police, seeking to meet strict quotas, are allowed to track former addicts' IDs and demand urine samples at any point.
Things are even worse in the Somsanga Rehabilitation Center in Laos, where, Alternet reports,
[Y]ounger residents are raped by older detainees whom the center gives power to enforce rules and regulations. One Somsanga detainee interviewed by Human Rights Watch said he saw "supervisors rape boys between the ages of 10 and 14." Children are not exempt from indefinite detainment in these camps. UNICEF-sponsored investigations in Laos found 150 detainees under 18 in 2003, and more than 600 children in 2006.
What do child rape in Laos and forced labor in China have in common? American taxpayers are funding both. Researchers from the U.S. National Institute for Drug Abuse have partnered with Chinese treatment centers in order to conduct research, going so far as to "advise on the experimental design of the preclinical studies...the data analyses and...the preparation of the manuscript." Yet the reports created by NIDA researchers (and paid for by you!) don't acknowledge the abuses that take place inside Chinese treatment centers or that "patients" are actually prisoners.
As for the Somsanga Rehabilitation Center in Laos: The U.S. has provided direct funding to the center for more than a decade, and in June 2012 sent $400,000 to Laos for "the upgrade of the treatment of drug addicts at the Somsanga Treatment Center and at other centers."
You can read more about the U.N.'s campaign to close these centers, and U.S. support for them despite horrifying evidence, at Human Rights Watch.