Eisenhower on the Opportunity Cost of Defense Spending

Gen. Eisenhower speaks with soldiers of the 101st Airborne on the eve of D-Day
Gen. Eisenhower speaks with soldiers of the 101st Airborne on the eve of D-Day

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 are 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. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, 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 threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. Is there no other way the world may live?

–Dwight David Eisenhower, β€œThe Chance for Peace,” speech given to the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Apr. 16, 1953.


Eisenhower on the Opportunity Cost of Defense Spending (Harper’s Magazine).


HT – Will via Facebook

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4 Replies to “Eisenhower on the Opportunity Cost of Defense Spending”

  1. Things like this are on more reason I so love economics. Adding up the numbers is one more way of demonstrating that activities primarily devoted to destroying things tend to . . . wait for it . . . impoverish us. Now if only economic historians and Paul Krugman could start doing math like Eisenhower did, we’d get rid of the pesky ‘war is good for the economy’ nonsense.

    War, if justified, is justified despite its economic effects, nor at all by them.

  2. I could be reading way to much into this, but your emphasis on here could give some unwary the false impression that you don’t agree with everything I’ve said everyone. And then the world would not know that you are my devoted and unthinking political disciple. πŸ™

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