Free Markets, Free People


I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords

Paul Krugman was on CNN yesterday, as a guest on “Fareed Zakaria GPS”. I’m glad of it, because he provided us with this gem:

If we discovered that, you know, space aliens were planning to attack and we needed a massive buildup to counter the space alien threat and really inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months. And then if we discovered, oops, we made a mistake, there aren’t any aliens, we’d be better–

I guess since the Nazis and Imperial Japan are no longer with us, an alien attack threat is all he’s got left. In one sense, he’s right. If aliens were coming to attack us, we’d do whatever we had to do, and damn the expense. Of course, the aliens, assuming they were really interested in killing us all off, would probably stop close to the asteroid belt and drop bolides on us until we said "uncle". Or were extinct. Which would solve our financial problems.

Here’s the thing about military spending. we consider a lot of military spending to be on durable goods.  We count it that way as part of GDP. But these goods are NOT durable goods.  They are consumables. We build them with the expectation that they will be quickly, and violently consumed in combat. And outside of combat, they generally have no useful role in society.

But let’s assume he’s right. We have a massive space armaments buildup, everyone goes back to work, and we borrow another $14 trillion to do it. Great. 18 months later, everybody is working in the armaments factories, thousands of "space fighters" and orbital x-ray lasers are buzzing around in near earth orbit, command bunkers are built deep in the earth’s crust…woo hoo! The economy is booming again.

Then we find the threat has been mistaken.  There aren’t any aliens coming to attack us. Are we really better off? I mean, we’ve been better off for a couple of years, while we were preparing for the aliens, and everybody was working. But what happens now?

Now we have a huge stockpile of useless military equipment that we have to destroy, or borrow more money to maintain. Demand for plasma cannon and shield generators disappears. The armaments factories close down, and those jobs are gone forever. We have rung up a $30 trillion debt to purchase a massive amount of goods that have no constructive purpose, and generate no wealth. And what wealth we did have is now sunk into space weaponry we can’t use for…well…anything. What we can use, we have a glut of, and have to either destroy or surplus out.

So, where do all the jobs go now? How are we better off? All the alien-fighting military and civilian jobs evaporate, our national wealth has been sunk into useless alien-fighting equipment, and we’re now carrying a debt of 200% of GDP. It seems to me that we’re now worse off than we were before the alien scare.

This is Keynesianism taken to the furthest logical extreme: We’d be better off creating a massive buildup of useless and unusable military equipment, because it would stimulate the economy. The trouble is, how do we pay for it once we’ve done it?

Frankly, if the aliens do come, I’d prefer that we do nothing. If they can cross the vastness of interstellar space, their technology is so far ahead of ours that any attempt at defense would be futile. And, of course, I presume that any society so advanced would, if nothing else, deliver us from Prof. Krugman’s brand of irrational economics once and for all.

~
Dale Franks
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26 Responses to I, for one, welcome our new alien overlords

  • “Now we have a huge stockpile of useless military equipment that we have to destroy, or borrow more money to maintain. Demand for plasma cannon and shield generators disappears. The armaments factories close down, and those jobs are gone forever. We have rung up a $30 trillion debt to purchase a massive amount of goods that have no constructive purpose, and generate no wealth. And what wealth we did have is now sunk into space weaponry we can’t use for…well…anything. What we can use, we have a glut of, and have to either destroy or surplus out.”

    Well, that’s obvious Dale, we follow Emperor Barack the 1st across the universe on jihad!  The BS must flow!

    Okay I was being silly – it’s obvious we go Motie with the military gear,  use all those weapons on each other and turn the earth into Mote Prime.

  • So in a way he admits that to pull us out of the mess Obama has created we would have too go to another world war to fix it just like FDR.
    I think most would rather cut spending than go into another world war.

    • … and of course the Democrats have been trying to lower defense spending these past few months.
      It only goes to reason that if there is a way out of this “Great Recession” that Nancy Pelosi will be trying to stop it.

  • Yeah, except within 10 minutes the left would be yelling “No blood for dilithium crystals!” 

  • You do know why Krugman suggested this, right?  I mean, take a close look at his latest photos.  The alien thing isn’t a stretch.

  • Well, Jack is nuts.  It is certifiable.
    What’s more, he was WRONG.
    We did not really recover from the Depression until AFTER the war, when a GOP Congress REVERSED enough of the New Deal so that the lid came off, and the market could work.

  • Substitute “Climate Change” for “Space Alien Threat” and the result is Al Gore’s raisson d’etre!!!!

  • The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed. A Floating Fortress, for example, has locked up in it the labour that would build several hundred cargo-ships. Ultimately it is scrapped as obsolete, never having brought any material benefit to anybody, and with further enormous labours another Floating Fortress is built. In principle the war effort is always so planned as to eat up any surplus that might exist after meeting the bare needs of the population. In practice the needs of the population are always underestimated, with the result that there is a chronic shortage of half the necessities of life; but this is looked on as an advantage. It is deliberate policy to keep even the favoured groups somewhere near the brink of hardship, because a general state of scarcity increases the importance of small privileges and thus magnifies the distinction between one group and another.

    George Orwell
    1984

    I guess Crazy Paulie isn’t an Edwin Starr fan…

    The left, which professes to abhor war, seem to have a real desire for it or something like it.  I recall reading that Wilson wished that he could mobilize the American people to pursue his vision of “progressivism” with the same zeal that Americans made war.  Now we have Crazy Paulie musing about how great a BIG war would be.  Why, it would solve all of our problems!  Everybody would have a job!

    O’ course, as Dale Franks points out, there’s quite a difference between a job doing / making something that people want and a job that has no ultimately constructive output.

    This is not to say that I am against military spending.  Far from it: it’s one of the few areas that the federal government SHOULD spend money, and IMO doesn’t spend nearly enough.  For one thing, the principle function of any government is the defense of its people.  For another, we live in a violent, treacherous world, and I’d feel better if I knew that the US military could UNQUESTIONABLY kick the sh*t out of anybody who starts something with us.

  • It’s essentially the Broken Window fallacy cloaked in a different story line.

  • When we commissioned the Schmectel Corporation to research this precise event sequence scenario, it was determined that the continual stockpiling and development of our nuclear arsenal was becoming self-defeating. A weapon unused is a useless weapon.

    … about all those plasma cannon and shield generators.  The alternative is that we use them .. on each other.
    Shoot.  What is it about these Nobel Prize winners starting wars ?

  • Defense spending does have the best “multiplier” of the lot…did you see any Dem proposals for buying F-22s and stockpiling them? How about building F-16s for sale to Taiwan? We could have built them, stockpiled them in Guam or Palau with an agreement that Taiwanese pilots could “lend-lease” them in time of war. (Or push ‘em across to the Taiwanese side of the base, like we did with Canada in WW II.
    Nope. The Progs wanted high speed rail and “infrastructure” until Robert Reich noticed that such spending would favor white males in the construction business.
    We could have ordered an assault rifle built for every household, ala Switzerland, and stockpiled those…but we did not.
    Hell, we could have made a list of strategic allies and made 3,000 F-16s and handed them out at cost or less, destroying Russian export markets for years to come…how would that stifle their R&D?
    Keep in mind all of that stuff mentioned above really is shovel ready.

     

    • And not only that, but cool jets can produce at least something marginally useful, that bombs/plasma cannons can’t – entertainment. Air shows are cool, man.

  • PK has been watching too much Star Wars. I think what he really wants is to see that moment when some guy in a campy helmet says, while on his death-bed… “Barack, I am your father”.

  • Here again is the fault of the er, an, uh libertaria strain.  They claim they’d sooner abandon themselves to the virtues of alien tyranny rather than sacrifice their present possessions for the defense of their neighbors and of themselves.
    Precedent designates those who are prefer the whims of  the powerful and ambitious as the spoils.  As it happens, this same disposition lends itself to the uses of more terrestrial forces.  I wouldn’t dare suggest this is a challenge to your critique of the scorched earth economic policies advocated by operators like Krugman. Paul’s analogy of Alien invaders is an appeal to the sentiments he insinuates us peasants are most likely to comprehend.  The real point is whether our interventions serve our interests – those like you who claim themselves unwilling to fight the mortal battle of survival notwithstanding – there is no alternative to the struggle unto the end.

    • Here again is the fault of the er, an, uh libertaria strain. They claim they’d sooner abandon themselves to the virtues of alien tyranny rather than sacrifice their present possessions for the defense of their neighbors and of themselves.

      Yeah. That’s why I spent 10 years on active duty in line units. Because I didn’t want to defend my neighbors. I guess you got me. Dolt.
      In this case, the argument against defense is because it’s pointless. If they have the technology to traverse interstellar space, there is literally no technology we have that could possibly be a threat to them. Sacrificing yourself with no chance of doing any damage to the enemy whatsoever is not defense. It’s merely an elaborate form of suicide. Even it today’s military, the US Code of Conduct doesn’t require a soldier to keep fighting when they can no longer inflict damage on the enemy.
      Whatever your imagined shortcomings of libertarianism, they have absolutely nothing to do with this hypothetical situation. Way to Krugmanize yourself, dolt.

      • What are you saying!  You mean our inability to get much beyond our gravity well with any significant survivable force would pose a problem?!!!!!  Surely you jest!

        Why, as those bug eyed monsters (see latest Krugman picture and imagine the horror of an entire civilization of Krugmans) sat out there in the asteroid belt dropping half mile asteroids at random on our heads, our finest scientists would be trying to determine how we could lure them in close enough to allow the Apple computer operating rogue television station managers to infect their entire cyber infrastructure with a virus that would render them helpless in space, thereby forcing them down onto the surface with us so our common cold germs could finish them off.

        You, clearly, are just unaware of the strategic and tactical options available to the average rock throwing cave dweller when he encounters, say, the battleship Missouri while he is out fishing in his hide boat.

        Victory would surely be ours!

        • Look, we know how to solve this problem: rebuild the battleship Yamato.  QED.

          Not sure how many jobs that would create or save over the long run, however…

          • Perhaps we could agree with Germany, Italy, Japan, etc. to ‘recreate’ WW II. I would guess we could get some volunteers to do the fighting, or we could just draft the unemployed.
            Here are my suggestions for battles to replay:
            Guadacanal – I am sure those Islanders could be bought off cheaply to move to New Zealand while we re-fight this battle.
            North Africa – The Libyans will have to call a cease-fire so our European and American re-enactors can fight properly.
            Stalingrad II – I suggest we replace the Romanians with the French.

          • We gettin Odrama an eye patch and a cape too?

        • Hey, we defeated the Goa’uld and the Ori.  The Wraith, too.

  • Did Krugman just repudiate the New Deal without realizing it?

  • Actually those big gray ships provide a lot of value just floating around. Tawain would be part of the PRC if they were not around. Who knows who would send ships to invade Peru or Ecuador if those ships were not around?

    Anglo-saxon navies have dominated the world’s oceans since at least 1805 (with the exception of the South Pacific for about 6 months in 1942), and this domination has enhanced commerce and security worldwide.

    • Those wooden ships had but one purpose – to protect the commerce of the Anglo Saxon empire.

      No commerce, no ships.    The hound we cannot afford to own neither barks nor bites.

  • The logical outcome that Mr. Franks so ably describes was dismissed by Keynes with the throwaway comment: “In the long run, we all are dead.” Whatever he might have meant by this, his followers like Krugman have clearly shown that they will trade severe long-term consequence for their own short-term gains.