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Home Publications Blogs CEPR Blog More on the Military Spending Fairy

More on the Military Spending Fairy

Written by Dean Baker   
Monday, 05 December 2011 07:59

My friends at the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts did a new study examining the evidence on the military spending fairy. The issue at hand is the whine heard across the country that cuts in military spending will cost jobs.

In a severe downturn like the current one, cuts in any government spending will cost jobs, the question is how many. Using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' employment requirement tables, they find that on a per dollar basis spending on health care or energy conservation creates 50 percent more jobs than spending on the military. Spending on education creates more than twice as many jobs as spending on the military.

In other words, if the point of spending is to create jobs, then the military is the last place that we would want to put our dollars. But, many in Washington believe in the military spending fairy who blesses the dollars spent on the military with unmatched job creating power that has no basis in normal economic analysis.

Comments (2)Add Comment
written by Wm. Roach, December 06, 2011 11:03
The big difference here is National Security and the defense of the Nation. A primary function and mandate of the Federal Government. Social spending should be way down on the list {:-)'
Social spending is a government function
written by Bob Johnson, December 06, 2011 5:52
@Wm. Roach:

1. Social spending is indeed a government function. If in doubt check the Constitution - "promote the general welfare" is right next to "provide for the common defense". Strange how the military boosters always miss that.

2. Our current level of military spending is way beyond what is necessary for defense. At these levels it's not defense, but offense. We spend about as much on our military as the rest of the world combined. It is a waste of resources as well as being counter productive: with a hammer that big, the temptation is to see every foreign policy problem as a nail. i.e., we use it. And wars are a net negative for the economy.

3. The end product of military spending is not used to increase economic productivity. it doesnt build infrastructure, educate, etc. It sits and waits to blow stuff up or get blown up. And anything it does do for us can be done much cheaper in a civilian context.

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