War based economy

My good friend, and fellow Hoosier, Debbie Harbeson wrote a great post on her blog, The Suburban Voluntaryist, this past week and I wanted to share it and share some thoughts about this particular topic. Her piece, entitled It’s Sick to Depend on War for Economic Health, discusses the scramble, by Indiana and other states, to get “defense” contracts.

This idea that a state or a nation can become prosperous and that a robust economy can result from an economy based on death and destruction is as delusional as thinking that a starving man can nourish himself and regain his strength and health by eating his own leg.

It is a variation of the Broken Window Fallacy, which is basically the idea that destruction is good for the economy because people have to be hired and materials purchased in order to repair and replace the damaged items. As many people have pointed out over the years, if destruction was good for the economy, then why not send vast numbers of B-52 bombers to criss-cross the U.S., carpet bombing cities and towns into an economic recovery? If destruction creates jobs and stimulates the economy, then why isn’t Afghanistan in the midst of a booming economy, with a robust and thriving private sector, devoted to rebuilding and reconstruction?

Just think through what it means to put your production and wealth into war and the tools of war. It means taking hard earned money from those people who are actually productive, trading their skills and time for money, which other people give them to avail themselves of the products and services of these productive people, and putting that money into items that have only one purpose, destruction. It is a one way street to bankruptcy.

Instead of that money being put aside for some future use, it goes into missiles and bombs and other items that either sit, unused in government warehouses and armories, or they are used to destroy the lives and properties of others, like some sort of materialistic murder-suicide.

Instead of that money going into the training of doctors or scientists, or into the production of hammers or computers, the war materials are used for the destruction of lives and goods, not to enhance lives or to produce other productive or useful goods. Of course in the case of the U.S. it’s worse than the destruction of capital and money. The U.S. is bankrupt and the U.S. uses the printing press to create new money out of thin air, or it borrows money, which is then sunk into the black hole of war production. If this was a way to wealth and prosperity, then why don’t you borrow all the money you can and buy all the gewgaws and widgets you can and then destroy them? Wouldn’t that make you wealthy? Wouldn’t that put your unemployed friends and relatives back to work? Only a seriously deluded person would think that that would do anything but bankrupt the fool who would set out on such a course, but when it is done on a national level people unthinkingly believe this crap. You can listen as many people nod their heads sagely and solemnly pronounce that ‘war is good for the economy’.

Let’s leave the world of economics and look at the morality of relying upon war and destruction as the basis of a nation’s economy.

It should be self-evident, but apparently isn’t, that any people who have based their economy, even their self-identity, on war are moral imbeciles, just as it would hopefully be self-evident to any human being that it would be morally indefensible to base a nation’s economy on slavery or child molestation or rape. When individuals rob, vandalize, rape and murder it is wrong and obviously so, but if those same people were to don uniforms and commit the same acts in the name of a nation-state, then it’s called war and parades and special holidays are held to celebrate the murder and destruction.

This is easy for most people to see, when they’re looking at other peoples and other nations, but nearly impossible to see when looking at one’s own nation.

Many peoples over the centuries have based their economies and cultures on war and war making. The Aztec were one such culture. Their way of life revolved around worshipping deities who protected the Aztec, maintained the world and kept the forces of chaos at bay, as long as they were continually fed the blood of humans.

How different is this from the modern American idea that we must kill to maintain our country, our way of life? Instead of a deified king sending his warriors out to raid and kidnap neighboring peoples to be sacrificed to their ravenous gods, the President sends out SEALS to spill blood, flocks of drones to kill Americans who say things he takes exception to, or cruise missiles and bombers and troops to kill anyone, at anytime, anywhere. People bribe, cajole, lobby and vote to get defense contracts and defense firms to locate in their home town. Death, war, destruction, all these things, wrapped up in a flag and disguised by the euphemism ‘defense’ is longed for, encouraged and glamorized so daddy can have a job, so brother can join the Marines and be a hero. In order for us to have an economic recovery and live the good life we must kill and destroy, and work to make more things to kill and destroy, so we can pay our taxes to build and buy more guns, drones and mercenaries.

Looks like we can expect more jobs for Hoosiers! yeah!
If your economy is based on tulip bulbs, then you must do all you can to encourage and stoke the demand for bulbs. If your economy is based on prisons and punishment, then you must increase rates of incarceration.
At least the Aztec were honest and didn’t hide away the sacrifices that they based their world on. They didn’t send their warriors out to kill people in foreign lands and dump their bodies into the ocean, out of the sight of prying eyes. No, they decorated their temples and buildings with depictions of priests cutting out the hearts of their enemies, skulls and severed limbs decorated their public spaces. People came from miles around to watch the day long sacrifices that ended with rivers of blood flowing down the steps of their pyramids. They watched and cheered on the sacrifices that were made to maintain their way of life, their place in the world. Americans are too modern and civilized for such spectacles. Keep the human sacrifices out of sight and over there, but let us reap the benefit of these sacrifices to maintain our place in the world

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