Cars or clusterbombs?

War is a tremendous burden on our economy.  Rather than producing things that directly benefit people (e.g. cars, roads, houses, food), massive amounts of scarce manpower, capital, and natural resource are employed maintaining the 700+ U.S. military bases worldwide as well as active operations in multiple theaters of war.  What if all those resources were here in the U.S. producing useable things to enhance people’s lives?  What would happen to the price of food if all 1.5 million active military personnel were engaged in farming instead of making and preparing for war?  From Wikipedia:

“The military of the United States is deployed in more than 150[1] countries around the world, with more than 369,000 of its 1,580,255[2]active-duty personnel serving outside the United States and its territories. Most of these overseas personnel are deployed in combat zones in the Middle east, as part of the “War on Terror“. Many of the remainder are located at installations activated during the Cold War, by which the US government sought to counter the Soviet Union in the aftermath of World War II.”

Since 2001 the US has spent $2.1 trillion on wars.  To put that into context, Ford Motor Company had total revenues of $118 billion in 2009, during which they produced 4.8 million vehicles with about 200,000 employees worldwide.  So let’s say the military industrial complex made cars instead of cluster bombs (and other implements of war) and GAVE THOSE CARS AWAY TO THE POOREST HOUSEHOLDS in the United States (if we can afford to pay for war we could afford to have them give out cars for free).  Over the 10 years (since 2001) that U.S. taxpayers spent $2.1 trillion on war, Ford would have spent roughly $1.18 trillion (about half what we spent on war during the same timeframe) to produce 48 million vehicles (based on 2009 levels of production and revenue).  That means that with about 100 million households in the U.S., we could have given a brand new car or truck to NEARLY EVERY HOUSEHOLD IN THE U.S. if we redirected the efforts of the military industrial complex.

Which would you prefer, war or free cars for nearly every household in the U.S.?  Those 1.5 million active duty soldiers could be here building roads, harvesting food, and creating things of value rather than being dedicated to the vastly unproductive war.  War destroys infrastructure.  War kills people.  War is paid for by you.

It’s an interesting trade-off to consider.

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