The Seen and the Unseen: The Productive Vs. Destructive Economy

It’s a sad day when those on the left end of the political spectrum understand Frédéric Bastiat’s simple economic lesson of the seen and the unseen better than billionaire businessmen. But something tells me they know better. Fear-mongering estimates about the terrible job losses that would occur if cuts to defense budgets actually take place are ignoring – knowingly, I bet – the jobs that would be created if the taxes taken from the economy and given to defense firms were allowed to stay in the hands of the people for projects that don’t end in destruction, war, and murder. Entrepreneurial Americans are largely peaceful people; keeping the moolah in their hands will lead to productive economic activity – and thus, more jobs.

Robert Greenwald and Derrick Rowe:

In their attempt to protect pay packages that would shame a Goldman Sachs executive, the CEOs of the biggest military contractors are again releasing bogus “analysis” on job creation related to massive military budgets. Don’t be fooled: the spin coming out of the Second To None lobbying front is about one job, and one job only: the job of the guy at the top of the war corporation, along with its massive salary.

Let’s dispense with the war profiteers’ so-called economic analysis (.pdf). The study released today at a war-contractor-convened press conference tries to obscure the massive jobs cost of military spending by citing all the jobs that are tied to the current Pentagon budget.

15 thoughts on “The Seen and the Unseen: The Productive Vs. Destructive Economy”

  1. This is a big reason why I prefer the company of Leftists to Rightists; not the only reason, but people who see past the war prosperity myth automatically get kudos from me-even if I disagree with anything else. There are other reasons I prefer to identify with the Left, being a free-market libertarian all the same. (Sufficient historical reason, at any rate. Rothbard's "Left and Right: The Prospects for Liberty" pretty much is my manifesto.) But, this is a big one.

    While preferring that the money be returned to the citizenry, building bridges and infrastructure is a better waste of money than paying some mega-corporation to build drones. At least some of it may end up being useful, not to mention building is superior to destroying.

    1. You must mean those ultra rare Leftists who do not believe that FDR rescued the US economy by spearheading the massive government spending on WWII.

      1. More common than you may think, especially now. The skepticism about war's effect on the economy is becoming a rising thing on the left. Even those who still hold to the myth are willing to hear my arguments.

        Really, most Rightists promote the idea that war is good for the economy-just with more eagerness. Only consistent libertarians see through the war prosperity myth.

  2. I'm glad to see that others are popularizing military expenditures as an investment in destruction. Bastiat's broken window fallacy describes such spending perfectly: it is an investment in not only broken windows, but also destroyed buildings and dead people. The very best we can hope for is that such investments are never used for their stated purposes, and the investment is therefore wasted.

  3. "The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking into the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable and hence, in the long run, too intelligent."
    — Emmanuel Goldstein, The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism

  4. While the premise behind this article is spot-on, even the complete dismantling of the military-industrial complex and the elimination of most federal spending would do no good for the real private sector unless all of the burdensome taxation and regulation is also done away with and the free market allowed to work unhampered.

    1. What do you think we are talking about here?

      Subsidies, limited liability, and government contracts are a bigger problem than some taxes and regulations. Privilege is the problem-regulation is merely the symptom. So, to the contrary, the benefits of an unregulated economy will not manifest unless privilege is abolished first.

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