Military Stimulus?

We Dont Need More F-22s

We Don't Need More F-22s

Holy shit. Sometimes the stupid runs so deep. From the venerable Wall Street Journal:

The Department of Defense is preparing budget cuts in response to the decline in national income. The … budgeteers … apparently reason that a smaller GDP requires belt-tightening by everyone.

That logic is exactly backwards. As President-elect Barack Obama and his economic advisers recognize, countering a deep economic recession requires an increase in government spending to offset the sharp decline in consumer outlays and business investment… Although tax cuts for individuals and businesses can help, government spending will have to do the heavy lifting. …

A temporary rise in DOD spending … should be a significant part of that increase in overall government outlays. … The increase in government spending needs to be a short-term surge … but then tail … off sharply in 2011 when the economy should be almost back to its prerecession level of activity. Buying military supplies and equipment, including a variety of off-the-shelf dual use items, can easily fit this surge pattern. …

I think we’ve been engaging in some pretty heavy “military stimulus” for the past 7 years. More importantly though, the reason money thrown at defense contractors doesn’t provide adequate stimulus is because it’s like throwing money into a black hole. Building more F-22s (despite Feldstein’s image caption) won’t make cities more efficient, lower energy costs, or provide the basis for long term economic growth by shifting our economy away from its petroleum dependence (which incidentally, is our best bet at national security, too). What’s more, greater defense spending will not significantly increase employment; this is not World War II.

Finally, I think it’s pretty clear that the experiment in neoconservatism adduces why military dominance alone does not advance our foreign policy goals. Doubling (or is it trebling at this point?) down on this strategy would be exponentially stupid.

The point of fiscal stimulus isn’t just to spend money, it’s to spend it productively.


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