SteveB, champion of rational capitalism, not Jeopardy

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Via Americana (see also, Sowing the Seeds of Future Harvests)–

America’s growing economic dependence on the hi-tech defense industry is creating a culture that views peace and nonviolence as seditious concepts. Why Can’t We Talk about Peace in Public?, Matt Taibbi

My own council will I keep on what is to be considered seditious. I got a little love in the comment thread beneath where SteveB writes this–

Imagine we are living in ancient Rome…
…and you tell me that the “entire structure” of the Roman economy is “based heavily” on the construction of giant marble temples to Zeus.

To that, I would say, “Yes, we do spend a lot on those temples, and I agree that lots of workers are employed as temple-builders (though they are still a relatively small percentage of our total employment), but the basis of our economy is not temple-building. The basis of our economy is people doing productive work, like the folks making wine and olive oil, for example. Temple-building is not the basis of our economy, it’s a parasitic offshoot of the economy.”

This is not just an academic distinction.

Your analysis would lead the average Roman to say: “Yes! By all means, let’s build more temples – after all, as you say, they are the very basis of our economy!”

My analysis, on the other hand, would lead the Romans to say: “Yeah – why do we waste so much money on temple-building? Think of all the wine and olive oil we’d have if we didn’t!”

Posted by: SteveB on Mar 1, 2007 1:01 PM

He’s right. It’s probably spurious and definitely dangerous to claim the military industry in the US drives our economy. What money seen from weapons export is in no way commensurate with what money is sunk into it domestically. Subsidized industry is a shell game useful only if the goal is fleecing intermediaries who either can’t follow or can’t control the path the money takes. More simply, anything that loses more money than it makes cannot drive an economy. Its function is not that of a motor but that of the brakes; or lighted license plate frame, fuzzy dice, &c.

If most Americans are under the impression that reducing our military and its organelles is tantamount to reducing our economy—well, how would you expect them to respond? There is the danger. Calling it America’s main economic driver, even as criticism, legitimizes it and disguises its real nature: graft.

If most Americans understood that a near total cessation of the American military complex would be entirely safe and a gargantuan boon to the American economy, maybe there would be traction on making it happen.

Sadly, Steve’s rather salient point is a bit undermined by the fact that the Romans never once built a single temple to Zeus.

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Discussion

Comments


Pat Ross

Re: SteveB, champion of rational capitalism, not Jeopardy

Between self survival and fantasy lies the deliberation of sharing to determine whether capitalism as practiced seeks a zero-sum game, or a non-zero sum game.

We can be assured that trickle down that seeks a zero-sum game, disguised as non-zero sum game, will not produce advocates of the game. There could not be more simple math and no one needs an economics degree to figure it out.

By Pat Ross on 30 March 2007 · 07:37
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