The Pentagon vs. the Economy

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We’ve all had to endure the claim that war is good for the economy. Why, all the spending on men and military goods is a form of “stimulus” that creates jobs! And the rebuilding after all the destruction – plenty of jobs there, too!

This particular foolishness has been exploded many times and need not be revisited here. It persists with particular stubbornness in the form of “World War II lifted the United States out of the Great Depression,” a contention believed even by some libertarians. It took the painstaking and detailed scholarly work of Robert Higgs on the subject to get economic historians even to recognize and concede that another perspective existed – namely, that World War II was in fact a time of economic privation and retrogression.

But in pushing back against the “war helps the economy” myth we can go much farther than this. In my new (and free) eBook The Pentagon vs. the Economy, I show how the military state itself, with its constant war preparations, likewise deforms the economy.

In writing this book I am building on the work of people like defense analyst Winslow Wheeler, who to my knowledge was the first person to calculate the actual yearly military budget at around $1 trillion – a figure Ron Paul would cite during his presidential campaigns.

Wheeler’s point was this: if you want a thorough grasp of the resources that the military state consumes, it isn’t enough to consult the Pentagon budget alone. Many other expenditures that belong in this category are spread around other cabinet departments and in other budgets.

But my book goes beyond even this. I argue that even adding up all the hidden military expenditures doesn’t capture the full effects of the military state on the U.S. economy.

Thus the book discusses the diversion of scarce research and development talent into the military sector and away from civilian research. It covers how the incentives facing firms that cater primarily to the military have been known to make them weirdly uncompetitive when they do produce for the private sector. And it responds to the claim that all this military spending actually benefits Americans because of alleged “crossover” – i.e., advances in military technology that turn out to have civilian uses as well.

And plenty more.

The Pentagon vs. the Economy costs you nothing, and can be found at:

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