A partial defense of defense


Nothing gets me thinking about the military-industrial complex like a stroll around Santa Monica (no, seriously), which happens to be exactly what I was doing a week ago today. And of course, defense reform has been on my mind ever since spotting Fallows on Gary Hart (not to mention Bob Gates, recently).

I don’t think I have anything particularly brilliant to say on this matter, but I wonder what decreased defense spending might mean for the low-demand labor market we’re facing these days. Don’t get me wrong: defense spending is pretty clearly an area that suffers from a lot (a lot a lot) of waste that is really (really really) politically difficult to eliminate ad so trimming the defense budget is, I think, a worthwhile project. Of course, we have an all else being equal thing going on there, and given current labor market conditions, defense cuts could mean axing a lot of jobs that don’t have a really obvious replacements.

Again, I haven’t really thought about this in any kind of careful systematic way, but… yknow, it’s a concern. And what’s the internet for if not for airing nebulous, poorly-formulated concerns? I will say, however, that it’s worth noting that people often choose not to think of national defense in economic terms. The upshot of this elision is that conservatives are able to convince themselves that World War II was a magic depression-ending world-historic event somehow apart from the pretty obvious fact that it was a massive Keynesian public-works spending spree. Really really stupid demagogues say this plainly. I suspect that smarter people do this too, if a little more subtly or merely by implication, but the Sharron Angles of the world get this crap somewhere, right?


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