Like it or not, we are a country under the influence of defense spending. When we talk of cutting defense spending, we could be cutting our own throats.
When we talk of cutting military personnel, we are talking about putting even more unemployed people on the streets.
An article in the current American Legion Magazine entitled, “Unintended Consequences,” points out that for every defense industry job cut, another three U.S. jobs will be lost.
There are 3.5 million people associated with the defense business. It generated $324 billion in sales in 2010 which is 2.23 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product as well as 7 percent of all exports.
For each dollar the Department of Defense doesn’t spend on equipment, $2.64 is lost in the general economy.
In an effort to cut military costs, we could be creating more costs with unemployment and a reduction in civilian output of products. Not a good picture.
Keep in mind that the defense industry — like it or not — has had a key role in developing the technologies that have transformed our private commercial economy.
The Army developed the first digital computer during World War II. It expanded research into computers and funded research that spun off into private-sector uses. The same goes for the Internet and e-mail and the Global Positioning System.
Less research, development, testing and experimentation means less innovation in America and fewer opportunities for enterprising individuals to create the unthinkable, the article said.
Besides considering the loss of jobs and creativity the defense industry provides, we need to keep in mind the first responsibility of government toward us all is the defense of us, as a nation in an unsettled world.
Much thought — other than just political — needs to be given to defense budget reduction.