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Commentary :: War and Militarism
War: The Wrong Jobs Program
18 Nov 2011
For your weekend reading I offer a longer essay, about why spending on the military is no good way to stimulate your economy. It plunges into the history of the left debate about Military Keynesianism and also discusses the arms contractors' newest schemes for exempting defense budgets from conservative vows to cut everything. I hope you enjoy it.
"Although the stimulus debate of 2008 and 2009 brought out some Military Keynesian arguments, the stakes have since been raised. In the wake of the debt ceiling compromise negotiated between President Obama and Congressional Republicans in August, the guns-versus-butter dilemma has become starker than ever.

Eisenhower may have always been right on a metaphorical level about arms merchants stealing bread from the hungry. Yet the trade-off has not always been so direct. In past years, politicians have often chosen both to fill Pentagon coffers and to support a measure of social spending, even if it meant sustaining budget deficits.

Current demands for austerity have changed that. The debt compromise not only mandated an initial round of budget cuts, it also charged a congressional "super committee" with finding between $1.2 trillion and $1.5 trillion in further reductions to the 10-year federal budget. If lawmakers do not meet this requirement by the end of November, the deal will "trigger" an automatic $1.2 trillion in cuts, half of which would come from "defense and security." To avoid these automatic cuts, hawks will be pushing hard to instead put social programs on the chopping block.

Given the Military Industrial Complex's canny instincts for self-preservation and the loopholes included in the compromise agreement, there is some doubt about how severe cuts at the Pentagon would actually be, even in a most extreme case. Nevertheless, the threat of a budget squeeze has been real enough to prompt an aggressive counter-offensive by arms lobbyists."

to read Mark Engler's article published by Foreign Policy in Focus, Nov 15, 2011, click on
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