Making money from war

A post from a friend on Facebook and a report on NPR got me thinking about the money that goes into war. If I recall correctly, the United States is currently militarily engaged in Iraq and Syria, Afghanistan, and South Korea. That’s just where we have troops at the ready to unleash war. We also have troops in an advisory capacity in different countries in Africa and Asia. There are also ships and submarines in just about every ocean on the planet. Military bases dot Europe and the Pacific. And there is also a contingent here in the United States, of course.

I started thinking of all the money that goes into the upkeep of those operations, not just the weapons and bombs. All those soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines need to be fed. They produce waste that needs to be dealt with. Many get sick and they need to be taken care of. Many of them have families who also have needs. There are about 1.3 million active military personnel. About 800 in the reserves. That’s a lot of people with needs that need to be met.

Meeting those needs are companies and contractors who also employ people.

The “Military Industrial Complex” is an enormous monster… That’s what I’m trying to say. And I think we’re at a point where “peace” might just not be achievable anymore. We might need wars and conflicts to keep a lot of people employed and earning a living wage. Just like we need disease to keep everyone in healthcare and associated with it employed. I’m not being a pessimist. It’s just reality.. And it’s sad.

I'm a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the Doctor of Public Health program at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. All opinions posted here are my own, of course, and they do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my school, employers, friends, family, etc. Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @EpiRen

3 thoughts on “Making money from war

  1. Here is a scary graph:
    http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending#InContextUSMilitarySpendingVersusRestoftheWorld

    Even with knowing the USA is the third most populated country (after China and India), it is still very high. While it was ridiculous during the Cold War when there was a real possibility of nuclear war with the apt name of “Mutually Assured Destruction” (or MAD), it should be much lower now. But it is not with the USA inheriting the mess of Afghanistan and Iraq from Russia and the UK. Just like they should not have gone into Vietnam when France left.

    There are valid reasons for having military defense, but it should not be as high as it was in the 1960s. Fortunately they stopped drafting young men at about 1975, and it is an all volunteer military. One that gave two of my nephews a good place for training right out of high school. One has a good job as an electronic technician, and the other took his experience as an announcer for the American Services Radio and Television Network, plus the college money earned to become a speech therapist.

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  2. That’s something that I forgot to mention, too: the GI bill and how it has opened higher education to people who would otherwise not have it. And not just higher education but vocational education that gives them meaningful jobs when they get out. I bet you dollars to donuts that GI bill funding would be the first to go if they decide to really cut the defense budget. (GI bill is part of defense, right?)

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    • Yes, it is. And cuts have already occurred since the end of the Vietnam War, and it is called something else (which I forget).

      It is how my father got his linguistics/French degree. An officer he was chauffeuring while an MP recommended that he take advantage of it (especially since the officer knew my dad had scored very well a skills test given to recruits). The graduating class of 1950 was several times larger than any previous year.

      Still he ended up back in the Army, since it turns out his skills in language acquisition were very useful to military intelligence after he became an officer about six years later. :-/

      (I just found out last year while going through old family photos that my mother and older brother lived in the migrant worker housing of her cousin’s orchard in the Yakima Valley while my dad attended Officer Candidate School, my brother remembered liking it as a five year old because it was very small and cozy!)

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