[Cross-posted at The Left Coaster.]
Waiting is not one of my skills, right, but for once I was positive that patience would not be necessary for a certain element of this unholy regrettable evolution of fiscal cliff which always amuses me and offers good illumination of public policy: the Defense Keynesians.1 If in fact there is no deal this month “sequestration” triggers in and Defense gets cut $57 billion.
California will lose $4.5 billion in defense spending and 135,000 jobs, December hadn’t even arrived and the stark warning went out in the San Francisco Chronicle. It seems the most simple of statements yet is fraught with so much contradictory history from our cher cousin Republicans one can only chuckle—in one way—that the warning exists at all.
Basely, seriously, one must accept the premise that government spending creates jobs. It’s as if to say clouds produce rain, but as we all know facts and reality are extremely slippery mental concepts for Republicans, when it’s time for stimulus from a Democratic President Republicans will look you straight in the face and say government spending doesn’t work for employment.
Defense Keynesians are protective of defense spending, not jobs. Where were they when the 2008 stimulus was chopped by those Presidents from Maine? Nowhere. Where were they when the 2009 stimulus desperately needed passing but wasn’t even introduced? Absent. Where in fact have they been in the last four years of utter employment disaster? Gonzo.
Giggles are the only response at the aghast nature of proposed defense spending—how could you! The United States has a totally psychotic defense spending posture, obscene levels that dwarf any other nation in comparison, not only are these puny “sequestration” cuts absolutely necessary they’re just the first in the face of a coming massive wave that someday will get the DOD budget to $300 billion with no ongoing wars.
Defense jobs are not same in delivering utility to the little people via public sector employment, not hardly. Work and spending that produces an artillery shell produces a physical element that just sits there on a shelf or in a tank, it doesn’t instruct, feed, prevent disease, build a road or produce clean energy.
Yes yes yes I know, we all must be so secure in this world since I’m supposed to be afraid of the Mexicans massing at the border. Defense and security are necessary governmental elements, of course, but the point is that the rest of government spending is rigorously demanded total accountability all the time, goddamnit if those kids don’t learn fire the teachers. Yet defense spending is granted this so special status of nebulous, cloudy irrational notion of “security,” accountable to only how afraid irresponsible public officials want their constituents to be. Impressive.
To those 200,000 who will lose their jobs, demand that your government immediately replace them with employment that builds roads and refurbishes shelters in the hope that spurred economic growth will soon get you another job. It’s a brutal answer but I didn’t devise this system, there is no other way. When the New England paper industry was decimated in the last 20 years all those jobs were lost and not a god damn thing was done except pathetic unemployment insurance.
It doesn’t have to be that way, so easy to spend on the little people instead of tanks and helicopters. We’re all Keynesians now, it’s been said so many millions of times, yet it never really seems to actually happen. Why is that? Keynesian economics makes perfect easy sense with only a little study, but unfortunately it also results in a liberal politics precisely geared toward helping little people, not defense contractors or Wall Street crooks. We all see the issue, I’m sure.
Yet there still is hope if only in the knowledge this absurd destructive level of defense spending in the United States, coupled with desperately needed little people social spending, will force a new reality of budgetary behavior. We won’t police the world and will employ our people, base political reality could force it. Bring it on, Defense Keynesians, the strident complaining will bring about the necessary change faster. Right?
Finally I thought the journalism of Ngue and Murphy in the Chronicle linked here was not bad. Immediately after the listed Defense cuts were the proposed social cuts, with a good emphasis that any cutting in an economic downturn is profoundly stupid economics. The conclusion emphasis on what would happen to the crushed fee-fees of those making over $250,000 was ridiculous (they still won’t be hurting at all, Jesus), but for a Defense Keynesian entry this was all right.
 Economist John Maynard Keynes.