Without Pharoah, Who Would Build the Pyramids?

march1Are wars good for science and technology? Do we have many technologies and luxuries we would lack if it weren’t for war and military spending?

The reality, as Peter Klein explains in the March issue  of The Free Market, is that while wars and military spending lead to the refinement of many technological inventions, they also prevent the creation and refinement of many things we might have wanted more. War and militarism also saddle us with things that make humanity worse off. Like atomic bombs.

Advocacy for war as a driver of human invention is just another variation on the Broken-Window Fallacy:

“[T]he Research and Development institutions created and sustained by government are like the pane of glass in the broken window. We see it being repaired but cannot see what might have been produced with those same resources had the glass not been broken. 

Moreover, military-funded R&D, like any government-funded projects, does not have to pass any kind of market test, so there is no way to know if it is actually beneficial to consumers. We cannot rely on the judgments of government scientists and scholars to say what are the “best” technologies.”

If you’re a member of the Mises Institute, your hard copy is on its way.

12:39 pm on February 28, 2013