Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Thursday, June 8, 2023

Pentagon Spending Linked to Vital Manufacturing Sector 

A representative from The Lexington Institute examines the role of defense spending as economic stimulator.

An article in Forbes by The Lexington Institute's Loren Thompson discusses how the Pentagon's policies have harmed US manufacturing. The premise comes on the heels of rising analyst and pundit concern over the state of American industrial competitiveness.

The PentagonThe Pentagon has historically been an engine for economic growth as the biggest supporter of cutting-edge technologies, which were instrumental in creating a vital manufacturing industry. As the author cites, during the Cold War, the defense department "poured billions of dollars into the development of new technologies such as jet engines, nuclear power and lasers."

The Internet was born of defense spending. The government in its role as nation defender propped up the economy and created thousands of jobs. Yet, as the author claims, "the nation's political culture has always been ambivalent about the role of government in fostering economic progress, with conservatives in particular believing that free enterprise should be the main source of our industrial vitality."

Politicians are willing to spend a big portion of the GDP on military spending during a war, even a cold one, which has the benefit of boosting the economy; however they do not recognize the role of military spending in its own right as a tool stimulate economic recovery. Politicians on both sides of the aisle hold this view but for different reasons. Conservatives claim that any government spending is a corruption of the "free market," while liberals believe some of those military dollars could be put to better use.

In Thompson's view, "political leaders can't seem to grasp that money spent by the Pentagon is just as potent in creating jobs as money spent by the Department of Transportation."