I was taught that the phrase ‘Guns and Butter’ was penned by the Austrian/ German Economist Schumpeter who ended his controversial career at Harvard in !950. I now think this maybe wrong (anyone know who it was?). It came to mind when I caught a glimpse of the current Senate Hearings, chaired by Senator Mac Cain concerning the Defense Budget for the United States Military Establishment, currently estimated at, give or take $640 billion. (I still have trouble getting my head around this number)
The last time the saying ‘Guns and Butter’ was used in the public domain was to describe President Linden Johnson’s ‘Great Society’ social spending spree at a time when the Vietnamese War was still in progress. President Johnson thought, or was told, that contrary to the dogma of the time the U.S. could afford huge new social programs (Medicare, Medicaid) at the same time as fighting the Vietnam War. All without triggering Inflation. Ergo the devastating Stagflation of the 70s’
Now, apparently, the Americans have forgotten the terrible lesson of history. After two wars costing $2 trillion (Iraq & Afghanistan) and the debacle of 9/11 the Defense Budget has climbed from $300 to $640 billion ( an annual 16% compound rate of increase) all without the Draft that was in place during the conflict in Vietnam. This at the same time when the U.S. is launching ‘Obama Care’ that well maybe the costliest social program of all time.
In searching for other reasons why this is so evident I came across mention that the “i shares” of Aerospace & Defense have increased by 142% since June 2010. So obviously the Military Industrial is alive and well.
At the same time I found in my archives a copy of President Dwight D Eisenhower’s speech in April 1955 where, as a great military general, he warned of the dangers and the futility of the same Military Industrial Complex.
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its’ laborers, the genius of its’ scientists, the hopes of its’ children —————
This I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the World has been taking, This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of war and human conflict (sic) it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron”
So true So Sad.