Defense spending is social welfare
I have spent a lifetime growing up in the defense business. My father was in the aerospace and defense engineer all of his life since leaving the Navy as a combat air crewman in WWII. I grew up with airplanes and missiles. When it came time to go to college, I was given a job working in the engineering department at North American Aviation as a draftsman incorporating change orders on drawings.
My work history was in the private sector for half of my career in manufacturing industry. Then, as American manufacturing was in decline, I moved to other segments and eventually came back to working as liaison between the Aerospace Industries Association and Department of Defense in developing electronic commerce standards and implementation conventions.
I worked for defense contractors who worked with congress to obtain funding for programs and projects that were called “earmarks” and “plus-ups.” In nearly every instance, the work that was funded with special congressional support was needed by government customers to accomplish essential work. They just didn’t get the work funded through the normal process because 1) the cycle was so long they could not anticipate or predict the need, and 2) advancing technology in the private sector moved so fast that government could not keep pace.
On a much larger scale, military customers, contractors, and Congress worked to advance support for large weapon systems programs like the B2 stealth bomber and the C17 cargo plane. In both instances, there were periods of cost overruns and challenges about the need for these aircraft.
Cost overruns were driven by at least two primary causes: 1) the weapons systems (airplanes) involved new and developing technology for which it was difficult to plan and accurately anticipate needs and problems, and 2) there were jitters in the acquisition, procurement, budgeting and funding cycles that disrupted smooth enterprise resource planning. The consequence was keeping the specialized workforce together without disruption – meaning keeping them on the payroll at times when there may not have been enough work to perform. When not producing, workers were in training, for instance.
After WWII, America learned that the nation needed to keep manufacturing capability alive. The best way to do that is through production of commercial consumer products for global consumption. Along the way, we lost that focus. As a result, systems integrators or weapons systems producers had to find other ways to stay alive. They diversified into computer systems development and that is why you see these companies showing up in government at all levels.
Therefore, when Republicans and Democrats say they are going to cut government spending, they are indeed cutting the labor force in the defense contracting and manufacturing industries. The way to offset this is for government to develop strategies, policies, and tax legislation that encourages commercial product development and production by American companies.
So, why is defense spending social welfare? Without it there will be reductions in the work force for which Americans will pay for unemployment. Keeping people engaged in government work keeps essential manufacturing capability alive instead of disassembling the capacity altogether.
Diminishing manufacturing resources is a national crisis for America today. Yet, that is not what is making news. Candidates are not talking about it because 1) they lack competence and knowledge to address the subject, and 2) they are unprepared to propose solutions. This topic is at the heart of renewing the American economy and candidates aren’t addressing it. To me that means we may not have the right set of candidates.
“"Weaponized Keynesianism" is incoherent, writes Paul Krugman: "Republicans -- who normally insist that the government can’t create jobs, and who have argued that lower, not higher, federal spending is the key to recovery -- have rushed to oppose any cuts in military spending. Why? Because, they say, such cuts would destroy jobs. Thus Representative Buck McKeon, Republican of California, once attacked the Obama stimulus plan because 'more spending is not what California or this country needs.' But two weeks ago, writing in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. McKeon -- now the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee -- warned that the defense cuts that are scheduled to take place if the supercommittee fails to agree would eliminate jobs and raise the unemployment rate. Oh, the hypocrisy!"”