Warfare Economics Gone Berserk

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Image result for Warfare EconomicsI just heard another commentator on television commit an error in reasoning that just won’t die. “Well, at least military spending is stimulating the economy.” Ugh.
As a man whose father was a veteran of WWII, I have a great respect for the military and for those who serve our country in uniform. I say this as a preface so I’m not misunderstood in the comments that follow.
It should be understood that countries do not get rich by going to war. Unless, of course, one is the victor and plunders the vanquished, hauling off copious amounts of booty and turning those unfortunate souls who happened to be fighting on the wrong side into slaves. Even if one is able to ignore the hideous moral implications of such actions, the whole business of war is still going to turn out to be costly in many areas – financially, emotionally, in terms of freedoms lost – and those are just for starters.
Every dollar spent on articles of war is a dollar that is not spent on bridges, schools, cars, homes, and food. What do you have left of the things you bought for war, Nothing. Yes, lots of people were employed. But what have they built that has continuing value, Nothing. Those items were largely expended in the war effort. Along with a lot of lives.
How then can people think that spending money on war will in some way help the economy, How can spending money to destroy things make the nation more wealthy, Suppose the money that was spent to prosecute wars or to maintain hundreds of military bases had been left in private hands. Private individuals could have used those funds for countless things that do have lasting value such as homes or education. Even if the government kept the funds and spent that money on bridges and roads, at least there would be something to show for it – and people would have been employed building things that last instead of things that do not.
Are there times that we must go to war, Yes, and they are very rare. But let this idea that going to war provides a financial benefit to our nation be done with. War is a terribly expensive business. It lowers our standard of living. It has bankrupted nations before. Will ours be next,