Saturday, January 9, 2010

Afghanistan Bake Sale

A while ago I wrote about "the evil corporate overlords who ostensibly profit from war put out propaganda via their media tentacles and party apparatchiks." I wrote that this is an unhelpful straw man put forth by tired liberal ideologues. Military spending isn’t simply popular because politicians are paid off. It has more to do with a political class stuck in tired thought. But we do have an extremely asymmetrical foreign policy budget. Military projects vastly outnumber the more peaceful, or at least non-violent ones.

Sure, it’d be nice if we didn’t spend our money foolishly. But before we get there we need to start by doing a cost-benefit analysis. (Shouldn’t that be up there somewhere with the golden rule?)

What’s so odd is that conservatives, for all their hatred of wasteful spending, think nothing of plunging cash into warfare. And yet one could make a reasonable case that, all told, war has actually made us considerably less safe. I don’t know if I would go that far personally.

But I would say that if we spent half as much money on so-called soft power we could see at least as much progress on national security. With the money left over we could have set up every major US metropolis with a version of the Harlem Childrens’ Zone and be well on our way to dramatically cutting prison terms, revitalizing our nation’s urban centers and seeing record increases in productivity.

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