America’s Biggest Jobs Program — the U.S. Military
Robert Reich lays out some figures for the military jobs programs both in manpower and hardware:
America’s biggest — and only major — jobs program is the U.S. military.
Over 1,400,000 Americans are now on active duty; another 833,000 are in the reserves, many full time. Another 1,600,000 Americans work in companies that supply the military with everything from weapons to utensils. (I’m not even including all the foreign contractors employing non-US citizens.)
If we didn’t have this giant military jobs program, the U.S. unemployment rate would be over 11.5 percent today instead of 9.5 percent.
And without our military jobs program personal incomes would be dropping faster. The Commerce Department reported Monday the only major metro areas where both net earnings and personal incomes rose last year were San Antonio, Texas, Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. — because all three have high concentrations of military and federal jobs.
This isn’t an argument for more military spending. Just the opposite. Having a giant undercover military jobs program is an insane way to keep Americans employed. It creates jobs we don’t need but we keep anyway because there’s no honest alternative. We don’t have an overt jobs program based on what’s really needed.
The Pentagon’s budget — and its giant undercover jobs program — keeps expanding. The President has asked Congress to hike total defense spending next year 2.2 percent, to $708 billion. That’s 6.1 percent higher than peak defense spending during the Bush administration.
This sum doesn’t even include Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, nuclear weapons management, and intelligence. Add these, and next year’s national security budget totals about $950 billion.
I have been harping on this one for years.
Because it is so tied to jobs, neither party will dismantle it.
What our political dolts in charge don’t get, is that you can dismantle it, and apply the resources (money and personnel) here at home. In violent cities we could double police forces. The FBI could be expanded to investigate and prevent domestic terrorist acts. We could actually address quality of life infrastructure here at home, rebuild decayed cities.
I remember mcwop. There will be more.
I expect Reich could make the same case for our drug laws which takes both a sizeable pool of people out of the labor force for extended periods of time and provides employment to all those folks from law enforcement to prison guards. And do not forget social security and medicare which is the only thing that gets hordes of older adults out of the labor force and keeps them spending money in their dotage.
I cannot tell if sarcasm or irony is involved terry…nor if one trillion a year makes a difference to you versus a smaller sum of only 75 billion (prisons) or if you have an axe in hand to grind. Please specify.
It is not sarcasm, nor do I have an axe to grind. I assume that Reich’s argument is motivated either in response to those –like me–who think that before looking at cutting fully or nearly fully funded entitlement programs, those who worry about the deficit should look at the unfunded military budgets or just showing how government really does create jobs contrary to what some on the right have argued. In either event, I was just pointing out that government policies of all types do have huge impacts on unemployment. Personally, I would like to see more people working at productive sustainable things in this country, but I am not smart enough to figure out how to do that. I do think that employing people to make unnecessary weapons of mass destruction or use those weapons where U.S. interests are murky at best is not productive. I also think incarcerating large numbers of people and paying people to incarcerate them and then guard them for nonviolent drug offenses is also not very productive. And the catfood Commission scares the dickens out of me when it comes to social security. In that regard Eschaton has a post up suggesting that we should at least temporarily lower social security full retirement benfits to 62 and partial benefits to 60 because those folks over 60 who have been unemployed for 50 weeks are never going to work again. I would add that medicare should be reduced to 60 as well. I have no idea how to pay for it, but it would reduce unemployment and help some folks who are suffering pretty badly right now. Who knows, maybe it would even get housing stabilized and give consumers some confidence.
I have been harping on the military industrial complex, which is what I know. There are other corporate welfare “complexes”: another 19% of federal outlays going to the other discretionary spending most of it contracted to suppliers of goods and services. These account for a command economy with little to no competition for about 8% of the economy.
Then there is the regulated industries, which contribute to the fact you can import pharma cheaper than you can buy it here.
Then there is intellectual property which gives propertry value and monopoly rents on knowledge far too long.
But the largest apple to be plucked and the one with most to cut because the product of the war machine is an export with no pay back.
I am working a post on the DoD $1.6T trillion in the top 100 weapons developments (not even half all the things being devloped and or delivered to the “force structure”. These alone have a $13-15T 20 year bow-wave of costs, with no product for the US. 19% overruns in the deliveries which are late and knowledge of the work not valid. The bow wave is even larger, with the only re;lief to live with less performance and no logistics.
Remember that Orwell said perpetual war was to keep the benefits of society concentrated on the wealthy and denied to the masses.
Some of the long term unemployed are late 50’s competing with 20 somethings.
Lower Medicare to 21.
The DoD’s 19% of spending can far more than cover both with room to leave the DoD a 7% share of outlays like the United Kingdom.
What you suggest would require treating terrorism as a problem of crime, rather than as war. So no new roads and bridges for you.
Thanks for clarifying terry.
KH not sure I understand why no bridges and roads – and I do not really want more bridges and roads, as I prefer better trains, and public transport. The latter all requires more security to prevent terrorist attacks. Labeling terrorism a crime or something else is irrelevant to me. Preventing domestic terrorism takes intelligence, and investigative resources based her in the US – which we are doing but could use more. The jobs lost from reducing military could be transitioned to those issues.
A higher police presence in a city like Baltimore will make it hard from crimes to ever occur, thus reducing the prison population/arrests, and making quality of life better. A Hopkins researcher was just murdered during a robbery right in front of my house a few weeks ago, within 15 minutes of my wife getting off the bus. It kills me we have 50,000 troops in Iraq, when we have zero neighborhood foot and bicycle patrols in my neighborhood, which has a lot of crime.
Baltimore does have some good bicycle improvements, and plans to develop an Arts district, another better use of military funds. Many other cities and towns have the same issues.