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Guest Post: Confirmed – Defense Spending Creates Fewer Jobs Than Other Types of Spending

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Yesterday, I pointed out that a study by one of the leading economic modeling companies shows that military spending increases unemployment and decreases economic growth.

I have located (giant hat tip to Gordon)  a paper by economist Robert Pollin published in 2007 by The Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst – entitled “The U.S. Employment Effects of Military and Domestic Spending Priorities” – which concludes:

We present in Table 1 our estimate of the relative effects of spending $1 billion on alternative uses, including military spending, health care, education, mass transit, and construction for home weatherization and infrastructure repair.

[Click image for larger version]

The table first shows in column 1 the data on the total number of jobs created by $1 billion in spending for alternative end uses. As we see, defense spending creates 8,555 total jobs with $1 billion in spending. This is the fewest number of jobs of any of the alternative uses that we present. Thus, personal consumption generates 10,779 jobs, 26.2 percent more than defense, health care generates 12,883 jobs, education generates 17,687, mass transit is at 19,795, and construction for weatherization/infrastructure is 12,804. From this list we see that with two of the categories, education and mass transit, the total number of jobs created with $1 billion in spending is more than twice as many as with defense.

“Military Keynesianism” – the idea that war is the best economic stimulus – is false.

Update: Pollin published an updated version of his paper on October 20, 2009. The abstract summarizes their updated findings:

The authors compare the effects of a $1 billion military investment military and the same investment in clean energy, health care, education, or individual tax cuts. They show that non-military investments create a much larger number of jobs across all pay ranges. With a large share of the federal budget at stake, Pollin and Garrett-Peltier make a strong case that non-military spending priorities can create significantly greater opportunities for decent employment throughout the U.S. economy than spending the same amount of funds with the military.

And here are a chart and table from the updated study:


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37 comments

  1. pwm76

    Good sleuthing.

    I’d add that multipliers are important, and that education spending’s impact can be magnified by using matching grants.

  2. gordon

    Thanks for the ack.

    Both the 2007 and 2009 papers were actually authored by Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier. Maybe Heidi should get a mention too.

  3. charcad

    With a large share of the federal budget at stake

    Translation: this is a purely political document intended to influence the budget process. And the Democratic priorities are plainly supported for all to see: “mass transit” for Deep Blue urban areas, “education”, “greenwashing” energy and construction, “healthcare” spending (for Democratic constiuencies)…

    1. “Industry” is generally unmentioned in that table. Unsurprising to me, I’ll add. I take this as your concession that reducing “defense” at this time will further reduce the US industrial base at its highest ends.

    2. I am roaring with laughter at how this study, conducted by a public university in Massachussets, shows that public educational spending is one of the best ways to create high paying jobs. I take this just as seriously as gambling industry trade group studies showing the same great economic benefits of legalized gambling. Or Wal-Mart sponsored studies showing the benefits of Wal-Mart.

    Don’t worry, “George”. It’s an old Beltway game. I’ve seen equally ridiculous twaddle generated by the Heritage Foundation, defense contractors, state consortiums and other groups justifying favored slices of military spending.

    For some reason you feel compelled to promote this now.

    1. George Washington Post author

      charcad:

      “For some reason you feel compelled to promote this now.”

      The reason is that I just discovered it now. Specifically, Baker just wrote up his piece, and Gordon from NakedCapitalism just located the two versions of The Political Economy Research Institute papers.

      By the way, let me post one more comment. Our military and intelligence leaders say that the economic crisis is now the biggest threat to America’s national security. I believe that the rising tide of unemployment poses the biggest threat of worsening the economic crisis. So I am very eager to create more jobs! Indeed, any data on what creates the most bang for the buck is – in my humble opinion – newsworthy.

      But that’s just me…

      1. charcad

        “George”,

        Our military and intelligence leaders say that the economic crisis is now the biggest threat to America’s national security.

        It apparently hasn’t occurred to you I spent a few hours in defense related matters. Say nearly 20 years. Let me put some specificity to these “threats” as these leaders see them.

        1. Energy and fuels security. So much so the USAF wants to begin construction of Fischer-Tropsch synthetic fuels plants. To be located on USAF bases given the continual NIMBYism gridlock on such subjects. Feedstock to be either natural gas or coal. Stymied by Waxman and other Democratic leaders.

        2. Industrial base decay. Neither political party evinces any systematic interest in this issue.

        3. Raw materials access. A current example is “rare earth minerals” and the existing Chinese control of this market. This was raised a little while ago as a strategic issue of concern. Turns out the USA is sitting on top of the world’s second largest reserves. Undeveloped. Use blocked. Why is that?

        4. Real procurement reform. I alluded to some real possibilities in the other thread. No one in DoD takes any interest anymore because attempting to do so is a career and post-retirement second career killer. Congress doesn’t care. Neither sitting Congresscritters care, or the hordes of former Congresscritters now esconced on K-Street and over in Crystal City trading on their connections for personal gain.

        Trying to care past Congress just leads to poverty. Better to get on the corruption bandwagon.

        So I am very eager to create more jobs!

        Paying people to run around installing weatherstripping has -0- multiplier effect. I’m eager to create high value added jobs. This requires prior training in real skills.

        Personal anecdote. A few weeks ago I got some x-rays. During this time I talked to the girls working at that x-ray department. The senior tech was in her late 20s. She had a B.S. in marketing and later got a Masters in Human Resources, both from Clemson. And she finally went to a private vo-tech, “Kaiser”, to learn a real skill; A.S. in Radiology. Kaiser doesn’t piddle around. 14 months and out.

        The first six years of this girl’s “education” was therefore 100% waste, at least as great as any waste attributed to “defense spending”. Yet there it is. Six years of public university and nothing economically viable was taught. This is par for the course now.

        The Government-Educational complex already gets enough money. Too much. Most of it is misdirected. Better results are available with less spending (and after a ruthless bureaucratic personnel purge).

        1. ndk

          Broadly speaking, of course you’re right. It’s heavily politicized, and any econometrics that depend so heavily on modeling are inherently prone to politicization. Keynesian multipliers are one of the juiciest targets around.

          But please don’t burst my higher ed zombie bubble. It’s my source of employ(though all the money is going to administration and facilities, mostly to impress young women like your technician, before she grew up and got a clue).

          If you must, then please at least give the corporate world the incentives to do research, security, and intellectual property again, rather than simply relying on financial transactions. I need somewhere to go.

          I’d also feel a lot more comfortable about our military if we didn’t insist on using our force projection capabilities to actually project force for heroin or oil.

        2. Francois T

          “Paying people to run around installing weatherstripping has -0- multiplier effect.”

          Oh! So all that material needed…comes out of thin air?
          The workers needed…don’t they eat, need clothes, tools, transport etc?

          All the energy saved…where the hell would go the savings? In the municipal furnace?

          All this oil, coal and what have you that would be saved…we just would let the stuff sit there, passing time?

          Come on!

        3. Greg

          I agree to an extent that the first six years of that girls schooling was a waste but only to an extent. Quality education involves learning how to learn, how to problem solve, how to participate in group projects and forces one to figure out how all these things like math, biology, sociology, psychology, business, economics……. all fit together. This stuff is all part of becoming a more productive member of society. Grade and highschool is where we get nuts and bolts while college is where we learn to integrate it all.

          The last thing I want to see is a return to a time where the time for being a child and enjoying all that comes with it is cut short because by 19 we are expected to be able to produce and produce NOW.

          Investing in QUALITY education is priceless in my view.

    2. gordon

      Charcad, what are the implications of “the old Beltway game”? You don’t believe anything you read? Or you don’t believe anything you disagree with?

      1. charcad

        When Lockheed extols the supremacy of F-22s and F-35s for the next half-century I get second and third opinions. When Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock says Nimitz Class carriers will rule for the next 80 years I understand they’re talking their book.

        And when professors at the University of Massachussets publish a study concluding that public education spending is the greatest thing since sex I also consider they’re talking their book.

        1. gordon

          Well, I actually feel bad about the snark, so I’ll apologise for that. But lots of people “talk their book”, as you know; that doesn’t invalidate everything that everybody says. Otherwise, we’d all be conspiracy theorists, listening only to whistleblowers, “insiders”, and cranks (and most of them have an agenda, too). Mind you, I’m as partial to a good conspiracy theory as the next man. I don’t necessarily believe them all.

          A fundamental problem with military Keynesianism is that its proponents generally forget about opportunity cost. The real question about stimulus/job creation is how best to spend money, given that there are lots of alternatives. The question isn’t just whether military spending creates any jobs (or stimulus). It obviously creates some, but is that the best option? So I’m interested in papers like Pollin and Garrett-Peletier.

          If you feel that in the present situation institutions (including the US Congress and the education system) are so broken-down that their reform is more important than spending money, that is another argument. There have been plenty of posts here and on other blogs which strongly imply that reform of the US financial system is more important than bailing out the current players, and I guess that would be one part of your concern.

          OK, enough, I’m rambling.

        2. Dave Raithel

          “When Lockheed extols the supremacy of F-22s and F-35s for the next half-century I get second and third opinions. When Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock says Nimitz Class carriers will rule…” and etc.

          And the peer reviewers are? No snark, serious inquiry.

          1. charcad

            And the peer reviewers are? No snark, serious inquiry.

            Please, no laughter from anyone.

            The final level of review is supposed to be the US Congress exercising its Constitutional authority of controlling public appropriations.

            On the executive branch side it’s a little known (and routinely short-circuited) entity called the Defense Systems Acquisition Review Council (DSARC). America’s nominally best and brightest gather here to turn thumbs up or down on projects, just like Caesars and patricians with gladiators of old. People like Sheila Widnall of MIT and others.

            In practice the DSARC routinely rubber stamps Designed To Fail projects because the Fix Is In. For instance, in the late 1990s a DSARC approved the Land Warrior II (mainly Raytheon) infantry system for procurement with a known 90 minute battery life and minimum 80 lb infantryman weight. Concerned staffers and patriotic citizen veterans managed to get this temporarily killed at Congressional level.

            Last decade and this DSARC has approved a series of guaranteed aviation failures sponsored by the USMC. The common denominator was Bell Textron of Texas. Political pressure compels allowing the Marines to behave like a full size service. Even though everyone knows the Corps doesn’t have the engineering depth to anything serious.

            This leads to disasters like the V-22 Osprey deathtrap and contracts with Bell Textron to do new builds of 45 & 55 year old design AH-1 and UH-1 airframes.

            Bell has a long tradition of producing second and third rate helicopters. They went into helos after producing second rate airplanes during WWII. The Army dumped Texas-based Bell the moment LBJ left the scene and went back to its traditional helo contractors. These were Sikorsky, Hughes Aircraft (now part of Boeing) and Boeing Vertol.

            Once more VPs and Presidents from Texas appeared Bell tunneled their way back into the public treasury. Bell and the USMC are a good working fit on these helo projects because both are completely incompetent in the field.

  4. Doc at the Radar Station

    “Military Keynesianism” – the idea that war is the best economic stimulus – is false.

    I would agree with that statement. However, I think what got us out of the depression during the WWII period was full employment and *enforced savings and debt repayment*.

    1. ndk

      And I think it was the destruction of vast swathes of the capital base, which allowed scarcity to return, fresh capital to be developed, and prices to rise.

      These are all valid hypotheses that should be tested empirically.

      So when multiplier zealots refuse to empirically validate that multipliers are even greater than 1 — or even acknowledge the possibility exists and should be investigated — I find it very frustrating.

    2. vlade

      depends on how you define MK – whethere it’s an extra spending on military in times of peace, of whether it’s what happens after you had a pretty desctructive event (be it WW2 or 30 years war or whatever).
      Whether the former works, I don’t know and won’t be guessing. The latter does – but in the process you have wholesale destruction of value.
      Of course, the wholesale destruction means that newly build things are new, and that innovation gets much more important. It’s easier to put in innovative idea on the green field rather than when you have existing good-enough technologies. Very simplified example – if you have an old machine that has production cost of 100 for product that sells for 150, you need to work out long-term case to replace it with a new machine that has production cost of 80. When you machine is destroyed regardless, it’s a no brainer => productivity just went up. And we keep old processes and machinery long after it would be objectively more economical to replace them with new – be it because we’re not always entirely rational; because it would hurt next quarter earnings; because the automated machines are better and would get half of the workforce out of the job and the other one would need significant upskilling etc. etc. Wholesale desctruction solves all these problems for us.

  5. wolfie morganstern

    George,

    It should be apparent that the primary purpose of defense spending is not to create jobs. It is to protect our nation and its interests. Arguments that promote or criticize defense spending for any other reason should be seen as lobbying spin. Defense spending, like all government programs, should be evaluated on its effectiveness in achieving its primary purpose.

    1. psychohistorian

      I think you are talking out your hat here Wolfie. What is this Defense spending crap? Most of the readers of this blog know that US military spending goes to further corporate and imperialistic goals. Who are you trying to kid?

      We spend more than all other nations combined and started the Iraq war. Some definition of Defense alright.

      1. DownSouth

        psychohistorian,

        The thing is that empires work, that is until they don’t. And who knows why they cease to function. There are, after all, over 200 theories as to why the western Roman Empire fell, and speculation as to why the Spanish, Dutch and British empires declined is no more conclusive.

        That the US had a long and highly successful run at conquest and empire is undeniable. The march across the continent under the banner of “Manifest Destiny;” the neo-colonization of Latin America, first under the Monroe Doctrine, penultimately under the cold war doctrine and ultimately under the neoliberal doctrine of the Washington Consensus; the installation of client states in Persian Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iraq (Saddam Hussein)—all these were highly successful imperial strategies, until they weren’t.

        As Andrew Bacevich has pointed out in The Limits of Power, the wheels started coming off of the imperial bandwagon with the Vietnam War:

        We can fix the tipping point with precision. It occurred between 1965, when President Lyndon Baines Johnson ordered U.S. troops to South Vietnam, and 1973, when President Richard M. Nixon finally ended direct U.S. involvement in that war. Prior to the Vietnam War, efforts to expand American power in order to promote American abundance unusually proved conducive to American freedom. After Vietnam, efforts to expand American power continued; but when it came to either abundance or freedom, the results became increasingly problematic.

        Successful empires always cling to former glory, and I believe that’s where our current crop of neocons comes in. In terms of international relations theory, neocons are structural realists, and believe world leadership is resolved by war.

        If we could somehow find a way to modify our national perception of self—to do away with the idea of American exceptionalism–without that final devastating, humiliating conflict, then we as a nation would undoubtedly be much better off and the general welfare much better served. But besides those quixotic souls hoping to relive past glories, there are also those who see the conflict as a way to consolidate wealth and power in a nation in decline.

  6. alex

    George Washington: “Yesterday, I pointed out that a study by one of the leading economic modeling companies shows that military spending increases unemployment and decreases economic growth.”

    From the paper you cite as evidence: “defense spending creates … the fewest number of jobs of any of the alternative uses that we present”

    So which is it? Does defense spending destroy jobs or is it just less effective than other forms of stimulus spending? There’s a big difference between those two statements, but you act as though they’re the same.

    George Washington: “‘Military Keynesianism’ – the idea that war is the best economic stimulus – is false.”

    Again you’re backpedaling. I’ve never heard military Keynesianism described as the idea that military spending is the best economic stimulus, simply that it’s a type of stimulus. Hence the paper you cite contradicts your assertion that the idea is false.

    Moreover, you describe as war being an economic stimulus, when what the term actually means is that military spending is an economic stimulus. There’s military spending during peacetime too.

    1. gordon

      Geo. Washington’s previous post actually covered two papers, one a CEPR paper by Dean Baker and one by Pollin and Garrett-Peltier.

      In the present post Geo. is talking about an updated version of the Pollin and Garrett-Peltier paper. I think you’re comparing the wrong things.

  7. Hugh

    It is interesting that education is the most effective job creator for the buck. State budgets are going to be crashing next year, education will likely be hard hit, states are great vehicles to funnel stimulus: seems like directing aid to state education would be a very smart option.

    alex, we are talking about military spending as a misallocation of resources. As stimulus, it is like that lame justification: it’s better than nothing but there are many things that are better and more productive than it.

    War and military spending are not necessarily the same but functionally our country has been engaged in some kind of military conflict non-stop for the last 50 years: the Cold War, the War on Terror, various “police” actions, Korea, Vietnam, the Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq (twice), etc. So I guess you would have to define what “peacetime” meant. Military spending is also destructive in the following way. An ICBM is built, put in a silo, and eventually dismantled. Tanks, trucks, and helicopters are run in harsh environments, sometimes combat. And then need to be replaced. Now you could say this was worth it because it kept the country safe. But did we really need thousands of warheads and delivery vehicles when less than 200 on either side were sufficient for MAD? Iraq was a completely unnecessary war. Afghanistan we should have left after the first year, two at the most. What this amounts to is digging holes and filling them in on a grand, and in some cases, criminal scale. It is Keynesian but it destroys real wealth. If the money had been spent on bridges, at least at the end of the exercise we would still have the bridge. If it were spent on education, at least we would have a more educated citizenry. But what do we have to point to after unnecessary buildups and wars? Only the dead and rubble.

  8. Greg

    One additional data point that might be worth adding to this discussion thread is the CBO study that reported spending on education has an ROI of 10%:

    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/91xx/doc9135/AppendixA.4.1.shtml

    So, not only does this U Mass paper argue that education spending creates the most jobs of all forms of spending, but also the CBO has reported that the return on investment on education spending is very high at 10%.

    One would think that military spending on foreign wars, with its high uncertainty and costs, would be held to a higher standard than spending on health care and education, where the return is better known and the cost more controllable. Unfortunately, the opposite seems to be the case.

    Deficit spending should be an investment, like all debt, and should be justified by providing a high return on the spending for the country. If it comes down to defense spending versus education or health care for deficit spending, we should pick the one that is projected to yield the most benefit.

  9. Nostradoofus

    While it is useful to have actual measurements, the economic inefficiency of military spending is self-evident.

    From an investment perspective, military spending has no direct yield: it produces no product or service with direct value to its own people. There are two possible indirect yields: protection from enemies, and capture of resources.

    Capture of resources no longer works economically. Modern warfare is too asymmetric (defensively weighted) and too expensive to achieve positive ROI that way. Even if that was the goal of Iraq, and even if the occupation were successful, it appears it would have delivered negative ROI. Bad investments.

    Protection from enemies also breaks down in asymmetric warfare. Iraq and Afghanistan appear not to have made us any safer, by the admission of those in a position to know, in both parties. Thus the return on that investment from a security perspective was enormously negative.

    Practically any other use of those trillions would have yielded a less negative return, and thus have been a better investment.

    Jobs result from money, goods and services flowing through an economy. Foreign wars break the loop — domestic savings (or borrowings in America’s case) are consumed, but do not generate any goods or services to continue flowing through the US economy.

    There is one exception: selling military hardware to foreign buyers for cash. This is a traditional export business that creates jobs and brings money into the country. You may have moral qualms about that, but this is the one place where the economics make sense.

  10. timbo

    @Charcad

    Good story about the X-ray tech. Ironically, it was was just yesterday my friend and I were driving by a local Tech College in Chicago(Devry), and simultaneously we both began bloviating about the utter waste of our collective 250,000$ or so of HIGH END education. Northwestern, U of C MBA and what skills did we procure?

    We both kind of agreed the world needs more Devry grads.

    I mean, will people continue loading up 60,000$ of crap undergrad debt if, upon graduation, a job at Quiznos awaits?

    Our education system has become a debt fueled profit machine courtesy of Uncle Sam, in my view.

    There’s a great line from “The Wire” (HBO), where the drug dealer (sans the MBA) cuts thru the bullshit – “We used to make shit in this country, now we just reach in the other guyspocket”

    For 20 years, too many of our best and brightest went to Wall St., in response to the credit bonanza from the Fed. Talk about a misallocation of resources.

    I optimistically envision a future where America can get rich again selling clean energy and food to emerging markets. This technology takes time and work.

    Now, we are getting poorer borrowing from China to buy oil from the Saudis to fly planes over Afghanistan.

    Sorry for da rant!

    1. Dave Raithel

      And to Charcad as well: You’ve given me some assurance that the money I wasted (though some of that was GI Bill) on a useless degree really wasn’t that much a waste. Between marketing, HR, an MBA, or Philo, I prefer being useless with the latter …

      I don’t dispute the point that we have lost technical skills. I know an unemployed tool-n-die maker (as a fellow musician.) I posted a “more than people want to know” account of the situation of my oldest kid, a recent college grad with a natural sciences degree, still looking for work. If capital doesn’t want such people, they are as useless as the kid with the HR/marketing degree (who, ironically I must observe, now has a job in an industry in the majority sustained by government transfers.)

      Though to be fair, Charcad seems to blame everybody for how we now are, and you are perhaps, like me, amused that things did not turn out like you had once hoped …

  11. Jim S

    I’m a little surprised by the objections; I had thought the hypothesis a given. When a nation at peace maintains a military prepared for war, of course the military “capital” is under-utilized. When a nation fully mobilizes for war, well, war is a wasteful business, and many victorious nations have emerged from war too exhausted to enjoy their antebellum influence. If the nation does not need to fully mobilize for a conflict, I would ask, on the gripping hand, if military means are the most effective way of achieving national aims. For example, while I think we (the US) have achieved some national aims in Iraq, I believe those aims would have better been served if we had avoided the odyssey in the first place. And the long struggle has sapped us, not made us stronger.

    From personal experience, too, I’d argue that economies of scale are reversed where the military is concerned, especially where service and support contracts are involved. The American taxpayer pays many a contractor six-figure salaries just to show soldiers and sailors how to flip the “on” switch … If you want to double the efficiency of the military overnight, ban the DoD from contracting work out. And don’t talk to me about Kellog, Brown & Root …

    1. timbo

      It shocks me that you don’t feel that giving out no-bid cost-plus pricing to KBR to build tents in Iraq isn’t stimulative?

  12. charles

    Krugman is close to the point when he says in his post about Depression multipliers
    ” We didn’t have a really big fiscal expansion until World War II; and WWII isn’t a good experiment because the surge in defense spending was accompanied by government policies that suppressed private demand, such as rationing and restrictions on investment.*”
    but he fails to see that it was precisely this suppressed private demand, and the correlated forced saving, that finally extracted the US from the Depression. 2 years of double digit inflation once rationing was lifted completed the trick by ensuring that the real value of the forced savings was reduced.
    Bottom line : the american public consumed much less during a decade and paid back the real value of the excessive debt accumulated in the 30′s.
    Thinking that we will get out of the present crisis without a similar period of significantly lower living standards is delusion.
    The problem however, is to find a pretext other than total war to get the public accepting such lower living standards. I think that the Obama administration is wrong to focus on the size of the economic pie, which is already an overblown souffle. Politically, it is much smarter to focus on the fairness of the distribution of a shrinking, but sustainable pie.

  13. Dave Raithel

    This issue has been of particular consternation to me the last day or so, so forgive that I may be repeating myself (in principle but not in detail): What would be the difference (in GDP growth, or any other positive evaluation of economic change you may choose – since there is the whole “GDP as a measure is bullshit” problem) between defense expenditures LESS than going to war, and literally doing what Keynes sarcastically posed – burying jars of gold in hidden places around the country and letting enterprise go find them? Between useless endeavors, aren’t there at least two measures – the effective positive change, and the perilousness of the means?

  14. Mickey, Akron, Ohio

    George,

    From previous comments it should be evident that I’m no adherent of military Keynesianism. And lately I’ve begun to question the effectiveness of Keynesianism in general.

    Nonetheless, in the course of one day, now you posit the MK has been refuted by one article? [Kudos to Gordon with whom I've exchanged unrelated comments.]

    “Military Keynesianism” – the idea that war is the best economic stimulus – is false. CONFIRMED?

    In strict methodological terms, me thinks you have committed an “ecological fallacy”. Even more to the point, data PROVE nothing as the first thing anyone familiar with statistical analysis learns is how to lie with statistics. If you “torture” the data enough, they will confess! [Statistical waterboarding?] At most, the data presented lend credence to the proposition that MK may not be as effective as other ways of spending in creating employment. I suspect economic adherents of MK could use the same data and come up with different conclusions, arguing that it is just as effective in creating jobs. How can that happen?

    I do not question the veracity of the two authors or the reliability of their data, but until their analysis is subjected to further scrutiny and replication, the proposition that MK is the “best” stimulus vis-a-vis job creation is NOT confirmed.

    Previous comments by charcad, ndk have intimated much the same thing and I just wanted to make my reservations explicit. One article/study of a particular subject does not confirm anything…

  15. Ally

    Anyone in their late 20s with a B.S. in marketing, Masters in Human Resources, both from Clemson, and working in Radiology is not a GIRL.

    Sheesh. Welcome to the 21st Century.

  16. Greg

    Even if you can argue that the pure economic conclusions of this study are flawed, the shrinking of our military is a good idea from a social welfare standpoint. The problem with continuing to grow military is that eventually you feel compelled to use it and will go to any lengths to justify using it.

  17. Paul

    A sincere question: can the paper be correct? Mass transit buys labor, concrete, rebar, land, and machines. The military buys more expensive machines, meaning more labor to make them. Materials are made by people with jobs. Land is sold by people. Those displaced by a transit project or base expansion usually have to buy somewhere else to live or work. Unless the military buys a larger share of foreign goods than transit, where does the enormous difference come from?

  18. wolfie morganstern

    To Psychohistorian,

    Sorry for the delay in answering. I had to get my anti-snark hat.

    Regarding my original statement, I was trying to express the idea that defense spending should be evaluated on its effectiveness in fulfilling its primary purpose, not on its job creation merits. Perhaps you thought I was uncritically supporting a huge defense industry or had some kind of nostalgia for empire building. Not at all. I am not an apologist for the neocon perspective. I certainly would support the elimination of war. Period.

    However the elimination of war is not something that can be brought about by a unilateral decision from the USA. I think we do need a defense capability. Just don’t try to justify or criticize it because of the jobs it creates or save.

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