The Myth of Military Contracting

The war industry stood back with glee when it released a shoddy study that produced the sought-after deceptive headlines about defense spending, the magic sauce of job creation. There was no balance to these reports, and the War Industry should know, because they funded it!

A cursory or peer review of its content would’ve demonstrated the leaps in logic and faith taken by the Second To None lobbying front.

Your and your neighbors’ jobs, or lack thereof, are of no concern to Second To None, an association funded by the Aerospace Industries Association. Their bogus “analysis” links job creation to military spending, but it is, like so much of the Pentagon’s hawkishness, detached and devoid of context and reality (.pdf).

On its face, the study totally ignores how many more jobs would be created through just about any other kind of spending compared to military priorities. But to further demonstrate the study’s twistedness, it omits the actual solution to the job crisis: long term economic growth. And surprise, surprise- the road to long term recovery is not through constructing tanks and warships.

Military spending generates an industrial brain drain that consumes engineers and scientists into a black hole of manufactured explosions and destruction. Manufacturing jobs, so sorely needed for economic prosperity, are withering on the vine as war contractors throw money down failed projects, or in Pentagon-speak, research and development initiatives. In the meantime, entire constructive industries are left stagnant or unimagined.

On almost the same day as the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office revealed the smoke and mirrorsemployed in the most recent budget agreement left the Pentagon $440 billion richer, military contractors are renewing their chokehold on Congress.

Or as the Los Angeles Times put it: Congress works to avert defense budget cuts.

The story rightfully reports how Congress is doing the military contractors’ bidding. Congressional leaders are on the cusp of taking military contractors’ cuts off the table and upending the not-so-grand bargain, which raised the debt ceiling earlier this year.

But what’s missing is muckraking that demonstrates the absurdity, on its face, that military spending is the holiest of holy spending. This in particular is a well-documented and well-sourced fairy tale. As Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research has demonstrated (emphasis mine):

Under the military spending fairy story, if the government spends $1 billion dollars paying people to do research or to build items related to the civilian economy it is just a drag on the private economy; however if the same spending goes to military related purposes, then it creates jobs.

…For people who don’t believe in the military spending fairy, the story is simple. During a downturn where there are lots of unemployed workers, any government spending will create jobs, regardless of whether or not it is on the military. In fact, military spending is likely to create fewer jobs than spending in most other areas (e.g. education, health care, conservation) because it is more capital intensive.

More intellectually dishonest is how the report assumes idyllic conditions for job creation and weather patterns alike. It omits the scenario created by the debt ceiling increase, wherein the so-called Congressional supercommittee faces across the board cuts to defense cuts on one hand and programs for students, seniors, the disabled and the poor on the other.

It’s not a secret that spending creates jobs, in fact compared to other ways of spending the money, military spending costs jobs. Spending elsewhere creates more jobs than building tanks.

So the same companies do the same military contracting with the same number of jobs year over year to protect the escalating jaw-dropping corporate profits. While some Occupy Wall Street cities have identified the war industry as a culprit of corporate greed, here’s more proof how the war industry is not much different from the big banks after all.

Thomas Jefferson wrote in a 1786 letter that, “Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press.” In that vein, it’s the mission of War Costs to debunk Pentagon spin everywhere it appears. The first step is denying the war profiteers any public relations or make-believe victories.

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