Far from being the best way to create jobs, the Pentagon's $700-billion war-making budget only retards the nation's job growth, economists say.
"In fact, compared with...alternative uses, spending on the military is a poor source of job creation," write economist Robert Pollin and professor Heidi Garrett-Peltier of the Political Economy Research Institute, Washington, D.C.
Whereas $1 billion of Pentagon spending will generate about 11,200 jobs within the U.S. economy, the same sum would create about 16,800 clean energy jobs, 17,200 healthcare jobs, and 26,700 education jobs, they assert.
Those areas will produce between 50 and 140 percent more jobs than the same money spent by the Pentagon, the authors write in the May 28th issue of "The Nation" magazine. Plus, non-"defense"
investments also create larger numbers of decent- to good-quality jobs than the military, as well as many more low-paying jobs, Pollin and Garrett-Peltier argue.
What's more, Pentagon spending wastes taxpayer dollars by frequently skirting competitive bidding. According to the authors, the Pentagon doles out "noncompetitive, gold-plated, cost-plus contracts to its favorite weapons suppliers such as Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics." "The Defense Department itself reported in 2010 that nearly one-fourth of all service contracts put to competitive bidding had only one bidder," they write.
Unfortunately, the economists point out, the military-industrial complex(MIC) "is creating a seriously distorted picture of the effect of military spending cuts on national security and the economy." They're claiming significant reductions in the military budget would "inflict major damage to the economy. In fact, these claims are demonstrably false."
What Defense Secy. Leon Panetta and others are bewailing as $1 trillion in defense cuts "is actually an annual $100 billion reduction added up over 10 years to produce the huge-sounding $1 trillion figure," Pollin and Garrett-Peltier say. In reality, the economists write, moving from a $700 billion to $600 billion annual budget "is hardly extreme."
Last year, they note, the Pentagon budget swallowed a whopping 4.7% of the nation's Gross Domestic Product, compared with 3.0% in 2000. During that time, the profits of many defense manufacturers hit all-time, record highs.
The co-authors note the U.S. military budget is more than double the combined spending of China, France, UK, Russia and Germany. Their article is titled, "Benefits of a Slimmer Pentagon."#
(Sherwood Ross formerly reported for the Chicago Daily News and other major dailies and wire services.)