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Military Spending and Bastiat’s “Unseen”


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?p=11498Bastiat: Military Spending and Bastiat’s “Unseen”

By Ryan McMaken

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

 

Eric Phillips’s Mises Daily article on military spending from 2012 is as timely as ever:

 

Military Spending and Bastiat’s “Unseen”

by Eric Phillips

 

[An army of] a hundred thousand men, costing the taxpayers a hundred million of money, live and bring to the purveyors as much as a hundred million can supply. That is which is seen.

 

But, a hundred million taken from the pockets of the taxpayers, ceases to maintain these taxpayers and their purveyors as far as a hundred million reaches. This is that which is not seen. Now make your calculations. Add it all up, and tell me what profit there is for the masses?

-Frédéric Bastiat

 

You will often hear self-styled conservatives say, “I support the free market and a strong national defense.” But if by supporting a “strong national defense” they mean supporting a large and aggressive conventional military — as they almost invariably do — these two positions are mutually exclusive. A military establishment funded by taxation, inflation, and debt is just as destructive to the market economy as a welfare establishment funded by taxation, inflation, and debt. Every dollar spent on the military, just like every dollar spent on the Department of Health and Human Services, is a dollar not spent or invested in the civilian economy. Every person employed by the military or the firms that supply the military with equipment is a person not employed in the civilian economy. And since civilian employment and capital accumulation are the foundations of a prosperous capitalist economy, a conventional military can only exist at the expense of a fully functioning free-market capitalist system.Scissors-32x32.png


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