FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Pentagon Connection

I wonder how Seymour Melman feels these days. For over half a century, this Columbia University industrial engineering professor (now emeritus) has been researching, writing and speaking about the massive overspending on the military portion of the federal budget and how this waste is de-industrializing America, costing millions of jobs and starving the investment in public works — repairing the crucial physical capital of America.

Recently, he prepared a memorandum called “The Pentagon Connection” where he recounted the massive redundancy and costliness of various weapons systems — such as the next wave of fighter planes, missiles, submarines and aircraft carriers — and the opportunity cost so adverse to the domestic needs of our country. Remember, the U.S. no longer has a major opponent that used to justify huge military budgets. Both Russia and China are converting quickly to the state capitalistic-oligarchic model and the Soviet Union is no more.

First, Professor Melman cites the Report Card for America’s Infrastructure that was issued by the American Society of Civil Engineers. One and a third trillion dollars are estimated for the repair of twelve categories of public works, including schools, drinking water systems, sewage systems, airports, public transit, bridges and roads.

The Engineering society found what any person who observes — great needs coming from great disrepair and decay. Adding $618 billion for repair of U.S. housing and railroads brings the capital improvement needs to a $2.0 trillion market, he notes.

Mr. Melman, whose knowledge of U.S. industry is legendary, adds:”Every manufacturing industry whose products are required for repairing and modernizing America’s infrastructure is left out by the federal government’s military plans.” And expenditures.

The military economy drains the civilian economy and this trend has been accelerating into what Melman called a “huge change” in the American economy. He writes: “This deindustrialization has happened so quickly that America’s capacity to produce anything is seriously undermined. For example, last year the New York City government announced its plans to buy a new fleet of subway cars. Though this contract is worth $3-4 billion, not one U.S. firm responded. Of 100 products offered in this fall’s L.L. Bean catalogue, 92 are imported and only 8 are made in the U.S.A.”

“Closing U.S. factories has not only left millions without work, but has also diminished the U.S. production capability required for repairing our broken infrastructure,” Melman says. Melman doesn’t mention it in his memo, but previous studies have demonstrated that a million dollars in civilian investment creates more jobs than a million dollars in military weapons systems.

The states and cities are reporting deeper deficits. This year, the states will be over $60 billion in the red. Taxes and tolls are going up. Necessities are being cut — outlays, Melman points out, for schools, libraries, fire and police departments, sanitation department, child welfare, health care and services for elderly people. But there are hundreds of billions for Soviet-era type weapons driven by the weapons corporations and their campaign cash for key members of Congress who decide the distortions of your tax dollars.

Recently, Bob Herbert, a columnist for the New York Times, interviewed the well-known financier, Felix Rohatyn, who was involved in the response to the City’s fiscal crisis in the 1970s. The current fiscal crisis ofthe states and cities is, to Mr. Rohatyn, very serious.

Mr. Rohatyn told Mr. Herbert that he believes that a $75 billion-a-year program of federal assistance to state and local governments combined with a $75-billion-a-year tax cut for working people would provide a substantial boost to the economy, and over time would result in the creation of several million jobs.

But, in spite of polls (as well opinions expressed by military experts, like retired General Anthony Zinni) showing that a large majority of the American people do not believe that President Bush has made the case that Iraq threatens the U.S. nor do they want him to commit our troops unilaterally, the White House chief is willing to spend at least $150 billion and incur casualties pursuing this obsession while ignoring life-saving needs in our country.

For a copy of the entire Melman memorandum, send a self-addressed, large stamped envelope to Professor Seymour Melman, Department of Industrial Engineering, Columbia University, 500 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027.

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

January 23, 2019
Michael Doliner
The Pros and Cons of Near Term Human Extinction
Lee Ballinger
Musical Unity
Elliot Sperber
The Ark Builders
January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail