Buttering Our Guns

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B-24s being built during World War II in a Fort Worth factory / Wiki

In these tough economic times, just how much of a fiscal punch does defense spending provide? A couple of experts  weigh in with contrasting takes on an issue that will grow in importance as the nation weighs cuts in military spending.

Defense consultant Loren Thompson (no relation) argues in Forbes that when it comes to spending, the Pentagon doesn’t get enough bang for its buck:

The Pentagon is the biggest purchaser of cutting-edge technologies and technical services in the world, but as I will demonstrate, its myopic approach to industry minimizes the economic benefits of spending all that money…It is no coincidence that the world’s most accomplished builders of warships are located in the United States, but those same yards produce no oceangoing commercial vessels for use in international trade.

Over at the Weekly Standard, World War II historian Arthur Herman takes the long view. The American Enterprise Institute scholar argues that the economy jumped-started that conflict’s war-time production, and not the other way around:

In short, it wasn’t the war that created a strong economy. It was the strong economy that made mobilization for war possible in the first place. All the war did was sacrifice present growth to a massive rearmament to defeat the Axis.

They don’t call it the dismal science for nuttin’.