Bombing for Jobs

The military-industrial complex is desperate:  "defense" outlays might actually get cut.  The Horror!  Imagine if, after real, inflation-adjusted military expenditures doubled over the last decade, they dropped a tiny bit.  The world would end!  The commies would revive and take over the world!  The IslamoFascists would turn America into an Ottoman province!  The Chinese would conquer California!

If none of those threats seem particularly credible, then, the hawks say, you'd better not cut military spending because jobs would be lost.  Reports the Associated Press:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is warning Congress that if lawmakers fail to agree on debt-ceiling talks and trigger $1 trillion in Pentagon budget cuts, they could add 1 percent to the nation's jobless rate.

Pentagon press secretary George Little says Panetta has relayed those numbers to lawmakers in person and in calls this week.

This is truly the argument of desperation.  We need more bombs because making them employs people?  Which means war is an even bigger jobs program, because you have to hire (or conscript) all of the extra people to use the bombs--and then make more of the latter!

Government spending always is a dubious way to "create" jobs since money is diverted from more productive private investment and future debt and interest payments will absorb future private investment funds, "crowding out" expenditures that would really generate jobs.

But even domestic make-work projects are better than making unnecessary bombs.  At least the former might yield something modestly useful for someone.  Building more weapons for unnecessary wars is not just wasteful.  It encourages irresponsible politicians to inaugurate new, and even more expensive, wars.

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