Friday, November 27, 2009

If war truly creates prosperity through sales of munitions and war materials, why not engage in continuous full-scale war since that would most certainly guarantee unending prosperity. The country could hold hands together and jump for joy as to how much wealthier we are by devoting precious resources to the production of things that will ultimately be destroyed. The country should also engage in the destruction of entire towns and razing of cities so they can all be rebuilt and generate new shovel-ready public works programs! The possibilities are endless!

You're quite right. The myth that military spending is good for the economy is just another version of Bastiat's Broken Window Fallacy. It drives me up a wall when I hear otherwise intelligent people repeat it.

The U.S.S.R. spent twice as much per capita as the U.S. on military outlays during the Cold War. President Reagan jacked up "defense" spending in the 1980s to counter the Soviet threat, which he claimed had grown under the Carter Administration's "disarmament" policies. After eight years of trying to keep up with Reagan's defense build-up, the U.S.S.R. unravelled. Movement conservatives still credit Reagan with ending the Cold War by bankrupting the Soviet Union.

So, on the one hand, the Soviets' military spending led to their demise. But at the same time it makes the U.S. more prosperous. People hold both positions--apparently in separate, watertight compartments of their brains.



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