The Military-Political Complex: US Military Spending 1988-2010

Here are some numbers relevant to today’s posting on Dwight Eisenhower’s warning of the political-military complex: 

This is what U.S. military spending looks like over a little more than 2 decades:

(Data soure: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.)

So much for the Peace Dividend that followed the end of the Cold War. Apparently, fighting a rag-tag bunch of cave-dwellers requires the same level of funding as keeping up with mighty Soviet Union.

If we want a return to the glory days of a balanced federal budget–you know, like we saw during the last year of the Clinton administration, we should

  1. Let the budget busting Bush tax cuts expire. The second major experiment with Trickle-Down economics proved to be an abject failure. It is time for grown-up economic principles to be used for tax policy.
  2. Cut military spending to late 1990s levels. The proposed Ryan budget would, literally, cause higher death rates for the most vulnerable Americans, who would no longer be able to afford some types of health care. Quality of life would go down drastically for Seniors and people with disabilities.It’s immoral to allow military spending to increase far greater than inflation, and ask seniors and the disabled to pay for it with their life!

And if you believe that military spending pays us back by stimulating the economy, think again. A study by University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee political scientist Prof. Uk Heo finds:

…a 1 percent increase in the defense spending share of GDP in the United States is expected to lead to a 0.019 percent increase in economic growth over two years. This result indicates that the economic effects of defense spending on growth in the United States are meaningless because the size of the effects is virtually zero.

Military spending, at least at today’s levels, turns out to be a really, really lousy investment


About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict History, Conflict Statistics, Economic Conflict, Ways to handle conflict and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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