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Open Access Publications from the University of California

American Empire?

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Chalmers Johnson argues that US military spending is far beyond its ability to pay placing the burden on future generations. Part of the budget deficit is from too low taxes on the highest incomes but more importantly because of “military Keynesianism”. This policy has reduced invest in society including education, health care, and efficient use of the environment. He goes to note that it is impossible to know the real size of the military budget. Congress is the biggest supporter of defense spending because of pork barrel politics. He outlines some of the budget figures for 2008 [conservatively $1.1 trillion]. This incredible sum adds to the current account balance that is unsustainable and has increased by 45% under G. W. Bush pushed up by military spending. Yet, President Bush is not totally to blame. Large military expenditure has been on a permanent footing. It dates back to first years of the Cold War based, in part, on fears of another depression. It became the “military industrial complex”. Defense spending crowds out private enterprise and investment, is a drag on the economy, and reduces employment. He concludes with an argument against nuclear munitions stockpiles and excessive military spending. He makes suggestions on how the US can change policy to a more sustainable path.

The accompanying audio file provides the complete recording of the talk.

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Chalmers Johnson talk