Research Paper on Military Spending

Posted on January 22, 2009

Even if they have never seen a weapon, millions of children seriously suffer from wars, as resources that could have been invested in development are diverted in armament. Armament spending has both positive and negative impacts on countries.

On the plus side, military spending can be a boon to some businesses, which in turn is a shot in the arm to the nation’s economy as I’ll explain later in the essay. On the other hand, there are malicious effects on economy as well.

It is true that a large military spending will contribute to economic growth in a short term. Militarization will bring more job opportunities to citizens directly in both military and military-related fields. Meanwhile, the important part is that there is another high amount of secondary jobs has been given. For instance, a new military uniform factory opened. It not only creates jobs for the people in the factory, but also creates jobs for the people working on the cotton field, even the people doing transportations. Furthermore, it increases the employment rate instantly and significantly.

Another positive side of a great military spending is that it will put a fuller use of existing productive capacities, and thus increasing output of goods and services.

The most important reason to maintain a high military spending is that it will give a country higher national defense capability. It is obvious that the more money government spends on the army, better weapons will be made. It will protect people better as far as the homeland security is concerted. People will live in a safer condition, and not to worry about their family while they are working. Thus, they will put more efforts in their work because theyбжre satisfied of their primarily safety. Hopefully, this will bring a better production to nationбжs economy.

Other than the defense, military also plays an important role on countries’ emergencies. Because the money that government spends on military is enough to train soldiers, they can protect civilians’ lives from natural disaster. For example, when a country is facing flood, at the first place, the army could bring enough well-trained soldiers to build a bridge and help people get out the danger.

Even though there seems to be many reasons to believe that higher military spending will bring a better life to people in a short term, the long run of high defense spending may impede growth and development.

First, high military expenditure tends to decrease an economy’s capacity to meet people’s basic needs, such as food, housing, and medical services. This is because increased military production leaves less national capital and financial institutions for the civilian sector of the economy. In addition, some government cares less about the life of their citizens than how to make the strongest weapons. It’s possible to observe that developing countries, despite their lower incomes, tens to spend a similar and sometime larger share of their gross domestic product (GDP) on armed forces and weaponry than do wealthy developed countries. One of the examples will be North Korea, the government spends 32% of their GDP on armaments, rather than try to stimulate their economy, and give their civilians basic food and clothing.

Another main disadvantage of high spending is that it leaves less money in the government budget for them to dealing with social, environmental and other developmental issues. According to a recent report from the United States, their federal government spends approximately USD $1.9 trillion in Fiscal Year 2002. Out of all this spending, Pentagon spending now accounts for over half (50.5percent) of all discretionary spending: USD $343.2 billions. In the same year, the U.S. government only spends USD $45 billions on education and USD $20 billions on social services. This translates to smaller social surety checks, less medical coverage, perhaps a third of country’s population doing without health insurance entirely, fewer scholarships and less aid overall for education, especially higher education for the poor people. With all the money spends on the national defense, the government could build three more sets of highway, many more hospitals and YMCAs. In additional, the government could spend money on environmental projects, help economic development, or even on agriculture. All of these will help people to improve their standard of living.
Militarization also hinders an economy’s efficiency, because a lack of competition. Since large amount of military spending creates lots jobs and productions, it becomes the main sources of income. But the military sector often allows military producers to feel less compelled to cut their production costs since they are paid by the government. Therefore, after a period of time, higher average production costs will depress the economy significantly. Meanwhile, it will hurt people’s life due to the high price and low quality.

As for the additional employment allegedly provided by the military sector, this is only a short-term effect: “military production tends to use proportionately more capital equipment and less labor than civilian industries and so creates fewer jobs than could be created from a similar investment in civilian production, particularly services.” From a recent research, people find that USD $1 billion spend by the Pentagon on weapons, supplies and services generates 25,000 jobs. However, the same USD $1 billion would create 30,000 mass transit jobs, 36,000 housing jobs, 41,000 education jobs, and 47,000 health care jobs. (Pentagon Spending)

Another important factor is that there is no end line for the military spending. It would be contradictory to continue building the military arsenal while at the same time paying the high cost of destroying the old weapons. For instance, to destroy chemical weapons costs about 10 times more than it does to produce them.

In the fiscal year 2002, the U.S. government spends USD $343 billions on the department of defense. Meanwhile, there is a hidden number. In the same year, the government spends USD $200 billions more on military-related fields, such as foreign military aid, military retirement pay, and veterans’ benefits. It’s obvious that the economy will be unbalanced after a short period of time, since most money is given to people with high ranks rather the people who imperatively need them.

While putting billions dollars in the army, the mean usage of this money is not necessary for defense, but for offense- developing new weapons. Even just developing, testing, and assembling thing like unclear and biochemical weapons is dangerous, generating huge numbers of fatalities, cancers and injuries- even if the weapons are never once used in anger. As people concerted about their lives, there won’t be any positive effects on the economy, because people tend to escape rather than produce.

It is clear that reducing military spending will affect civilian’s life more in those exporting countries such as the United States, England, and France since countries selling their old weapons make them great revenues.

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