Dispenser of Negativity
- May 30, 2007
- Reaction score
- Political Leaning
Here is Keynesian economics taken to its logical end: government spending is so essential to restarting a stalled economy that a major war — with all its death and destruction — may be the only way to achieve the stimulation needed. It may go too far to say that Krugman and Feldstein would relish a war, but only by a little. They clearly believe that in the current circumstances, war is our only hope.
There is a superficial logic here. If you believe government spending stimulates an economy, then why not war? In a big war government taxes and borrows huge amounts of money in order to buy large quantities of things — airplanes, tanks, Humvees, bombs, guns, bullets, supplies, clothing, food. It also pays lots of people — bureaucrats, soldiers, sailors, pilots, engineers, manufacturing workers — to do things. In turn the recipients spend that money on the necessities of life. Hence, the jumpstart to the economy.
But of course war means death, injury, and destruction. How can making things that will be used to destroy other things, including lives, produce economic well-being? Are we really ready to accept the Orwellian notion that war is prosperity?
If we have reached the point of seeing war as a source of good things, it is time to check our premises. Right away we see that if the government pays people money to make war materiel, private entrepreneurs can’t pay them to make things consumers will want to buy. This is the “broken window” fallacy: being so distracted by the visible “benefits” of a government policy that one overlooks the unseen costs. Government doesn’t create resources; it only moves them around. When government taxes or borrows, it transfers scarce resources and labor from the productive sector to politicians and bureaucrats. The Keynesian will say that since the resources are idle, there is no cost and only benefits from the transfer. That is a shallow response.
War went not waged defensively only guarantees growth of the state.
War Does Not Produce Prosperity by Sheldon Richman