Thursday, November 17, 2011

Huge Military Industrial Complex Equals Big Government

The US have been pampering her military institutions...

From Bloomberg,

The two-star general’s new home came with granite countertops, hardwood floors, stainless appliances and high expectations. It was a gift to the U.S. Army from the taxpayers of Huntsville, Alabama.

Major General James Pillsbury and wife Becky moved into the house during November 2003. The 4,200-square-foot (390-square- meter) brick villa was built using city paving funds. It was the first of 10 costing a total of $3.8 million that the city donated to the Army to enhance nearby Redstone Arsenal as the Pentagon prepared to close bases around the country.

“It’s what we affectionately call ‘pass-through pork,’” says James Link, a retired Army three-star general who was commander of the arsenal in the 1990s.

Luxury quarters for generals were just part of a leave- nothing-to-chance strategy led by Joe Ritch, a 61-year-old lawyer. Armed with campaign contributions and lobbying funds, his network of politicians, boosters and defense executives helped Huntsville expand its military presence, win billions of dollars in Pentagon contracts and add thousands of jobs. Per capita defense spending climbed to 13 times the national rate, creating an oasis of prosperity in a lackluster U.S. economy.

Huntsville helps show why it’s difficult to slash defense spending. Congress and the president have told the Pentagon to find $450 billion in cuts over the next 10 years. The Defense Department’s past efforts have fallen short. In 2005, the military promised to save $36 billion by consolidating bases and missed its goal by almost two-thirds, according to a January 2009 Government Accountability Office report….

Fifty years ago, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against “the acquisition of unwarranted influence” by “the military-industrial complex” of defense contractors, lawmakers and Pentagon officials. The local advocacy groups represent a new spoke on the wheel that keeps military spending rolling.

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US military spending have been the largest in the world and is even larger than the combined spending of rest of the world. (chart from the Economist)

True, there are some areas or sectors that have benefit from such activities. But it is important to note that military spending has not only been non-productive but crowds out resources meant for consumers.

As Professor Thomas Woods aptly writes,

Measurements of “economic growth” can be misleading if they do not differentiate between productive growth and parasitic growth. Productive growth improves people’s standard of living and/or contributes to future production. Parasitic growth merely depletes manpower and existing stocks of goods without accomplishing either of these ends. Military spending constitutes the classic example of parasitic growth.

In other words, politically privileged sectors (or cronies) are again beneficiaries of politically allocated expenditures—all for the sake of the preservation and expansion of power over society—which incidentally resonates with the title of the Bloomberg article quoted above “Big Gov’t Embraced to Keep U.S. Generals Happy”

As the great Murray Rothbard wrote, (bold emphasis mine)

What the State fears above all, of course, is any fundamental threat to its own power and its own existence. The death of a State can come about in two major ways: (a) through conquest by another State, or (b) through revolutionary overthrow by its own subjects, in short, by war or revolution. War and revolution, as the two basic threats, invariably arouse in the State rulers their maximum efforts and maximum propaganda among the people. As stated above, any way must always be used to mobilize the people to come to the State's defense in the belief that they are defending themselves. The fallacy of the idea becomes evident when conscription is wielded against those who refuse to "defend" themselves and are, therefore, forced into joining the State's military band: needless to add, no "defense" is permitted them against this act of "their own" State.

In war, State power is pushed to its ultimate, and, under the slogans of "defense" and "emergency," it can impose a tyranny upon the public such as might be openly resisted in time of peace. War thus provides many benefits to a State, and indeed every modern war has brought to the warring peoples a permanent legacy of increased State burdens upon society.

So some pointers from the above…

Wars have been provoked or incited (directly or discreetly) by politicians to expand political control over society and or to gratify the whims or ideologies of politicians and or to protect the interest of certain powerful groups (Read Anthony Gregory’s excellent review of historian Ralph Raico’s book here)

Wars do not benefit society, but politicians and their private sector allies.

The threat of wars signifies as propaganda bogeymen meant to justify the existence and the expenditures of the military industrial complex.

Military expenditures have been a drain to the economy as resources are diverted to non-productive or non-market (consumer) uses.

Military expenditures partly account for as implicit buying of the military’s support to sustain politicians’ control over society and to eliminate the risk of a military orchestrated upheaval.

And like the welfare state the warfare state essentially represents crony capitalism or State Corporatism.

Bottom line: The warfare state is largely incompatible with economic, political and civil freedom.

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