Does The Economy Benefit From War?

From sketches and comic characters suggesting that war is indeed good for business, there are people who actually believe this to be true. In fact, newspapers and magazines too have conducted studies that reveal war to be the prime cause for a slowdown in the economy. Just recently the Washington Post delivered a message along the lines of, the end of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are directly responsible for reducing the economic growth of the nation and in fact regressing it to a certain extent!

Pentagon’s spending has gone down by nearly 11.9 percent and this has hurt the GDP of United States bringing it down that of what it was in 2013. What economists want us to understand is that after years of bloodshed, war, destruction, damage to human civilization and the environment, there is a silver lining in it for the economy. For those who are purely economists at heart (if they have one) war is great for the economy.

GDP, which is accepted as a global indicator of a country’s growth needs to always go up otherwise the country is in recession. However, what economists do not tell you is that terms such as GDP are all arbitrary and the numbers come from incomplete data, which means that the percentage one arrives at for GDP is actually misleading.

Take for instance a dollar that is spent on finding a cure for cancer as opposed to a dollar given as a bribe to some Afghan drug lord. To GDP, it is all the same. If you are starting to see why the notion that war is good for the economy is skewed, then I guess I am making some sense. Likewise think of a hurricane wreaking havac on a state. The money spent in rebuilding a city adds to a growth in GDP even though it is just being spent to get a city back up to its footing and then contribute to GDP!

Members of Congress consider the defense budgeting to be something or mystical nature. Why else would a billion dollar defense program get hardly any negative energy on the floor whereas something miniscule such as the Corporation for Public Broadcasting will get brickbats no matter what the discussion is.

Naturally, politicians keep preaching the need to reduce government expenditure on healthcare and how that money can go to better causes. However, does any politician say that lets spend less on defense contracts and research so we can find a definitive cure for AIDS or Cancer? No, because that’s how economists are. To them money matters, not the cause or cure behind it.

A nation that is used to waring naturally sees the military as a genuine job maker. From making weapons on civilian production lines to selling them to foreign nations, waring factions everything about war is an economic benefit. Unfortunately, no one points to the money spend in R&D and just how expensive it is to get a new technology designed, tested and then put to production. Think if that same expenditure went to some worthy cause such as ending hunger in Africa, eliminating the threat of global warming once and for all. What if that money went into schools and healthcare?

In the 2000s, DOD had its budget doubled because of war. This budget is the largest since World War II and yet during the same time, the country raked up debts worth $1.4 trillion. Was it worth it? That is the big question now. For those who simply look at the numbers and not the lives behind those numbers, yes is the answer. For those who look at the lives saved and enabled versus the lives lost column – the answer is definitely not.