A military solution to the Great Recession
Check out this editorial from The New York Times about the jobs situation our country is facing now. It does a good job of painting the economic landscape clearly and succinctly.
President Obama is looking for "bold, innovative action" to put the country back on track.
Here's what's currently on the table:
- stimulus spending
- tax incentives for businesses
- targeted incentives for industries that represent high growth potential (such as energy)
- healthcare reform
- education reform (not currently being pushed as strongly as the others, but doubtless to come soon)
- immigration reform (ditto)
But for whatever reason, politicians on both sides are ignoring the single most effective tool for big-time stimulus: the military.
It was military spending that got us out of the Great Depression, and which has kept America in a global leadership position ever since.
I'm not talking about going out and starting unnecessary wars or militarizing our society.
But think about it this way. An ambitious, strategic investment in the US military would result in a number of very positive outcomes.
- Resource issues for Iraq and Afghanistan could be mitigated. Our current, relatively small pool of soldiers is tapped out from multiple deployments to multiple warzones for the better part of a decade, with little end in sight- save for large-scale retreats from those theaters. To preserve our military primacy, to give President Obama the widest range of options to choose from when planning our foreign policy, and to prevent our military from going down the path of the Soviet military following the end of the Cold War, we need more of the world's greatest soldiers. And there are a lot of people who are looking for jobs now who would be able to serve.
- The military has historically been a leading R&D laboratory for our private industry. Key advances in science, medicine, and technology came about due to the military's massive R&D budgets during the cold war. That expenditure has tapered off dramatically over the past 20 years, and with it, much of America's competitive advantage in those areas has been eliminated. Fields like green energy, battery technology, and medicine could benefit dramatically from military research.
- Education. The military has traditionally provided young people with education and other career-oriented benefits in exchange for service.
- And so forth.
So I think the Administration should enact a bold new program that provides for the creation of a large number of new military jobs (not all of which would be soldiers- not by a long shot); a large amount of military stimulus funding tied to the achievement of specific innovation benchmarks; and a new mandate to continue to keep America safe by doing three things: 1) kicking ass harder than ever when necessary; 2) providing a world-best elite research program around energy, technology, and medicine; 3) finding more ways to leverage the military's assets (people and technology) to further America's soft power around the world through humanitarian programs and other initiatives aimed at preventing war.
Perhaps the best part of all of this: I'm hard pressed to imagine Republicans complaining too much about the government increasing military spending.
So, this approach would pump a ton of money through the economy. It would do so in a manner that addresses many if not most of our key security and strategic challenges. And if done correctly, it could be pulled off in a way where liberals get to expand the size of government to solve our problems, and conservatives get to expand the only part of government they feel is worth keeping strong.