Foreign and Defense Policy, Defense

‘Tis the season to give thanks for military R&D

Image credit: The U.S. Army (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

Image credit: The U.S. Army (Flickr) (CC BY 2.0)

If you enjoy the conveniences of your laptop computer, saving messages on your iPhone, capturing millions of memorizes with your digital camera, or not getting lost with the help of a GPS, then you might want to consider supporting a strong budget for our military.

Take a look at the staggering list of goods we would never be able to enjoy today had we cut military research and development (R&D) spending in the past. As AEI’s Mackenzie Eaglen and coauthor Julia Pollak write in their new paper outlining how military supremacy in technology is under threat, it’s never too late to give thanks to R&D.

8 thoughts on “‘Tis the season to give thanks for military R&D

  1. DOD R&D is a classic “liberal” idea that very much includes the concept of throwing enough money at a problem until it gets solved.

    what would be interesting would be to see that list of things that DOD R&D has delivered to us – …. and their price tags….and the market capitalization of the civilian spin-offs.

    DOD R&D has the same problem as DOD when it comes time to quantify how much we can afford verses how much the other things that are important cost us.

    we cannot justify unlimited budgets – for anything but I’ve never heard someone say what the “right amount” is to spend on DOD or DOD R&D – relative to how much we have in tax revenues

    what percent of our available tax revenues should be allocated to DOD?

  2. Hard to argue that those items would not have been developed anyway. Bestiat’s broken window fallacy tells us we would have easily found twice as many things with those resources left in the private sector. So take that list and double it to get what we could have had. Wow.

  3. What a bunch of crap!!! As usual the military Keynesians get another intern to present a version of the Broken Window fallacy to readers who should know better. You might want to learn Brittany, that when the government takes taxes from private sources the net effect is not positive. Had the money remained in private hands more and better products would have been developed and marketed.

    The article below might help you think about the issue a little differently. When monopolies that face no competition spend money on research they may find new technologies that could be useful. But the problem is the orientation of goals. Monopolies seem to pursue internal goals rather than try to curry favour with a customer base. The fact that Bell Labs discovered magnetic storage in 1934 did not help the storage business because the discovery was hidden from view for the next 60 years.

    SteveB makes a very valid point above. I do not know what your background is Brittany but I suggest that you read Bastiat or Henry Hazlitt to learn some basic economics before you embarrass yourself by repeating the same errors that we get from the left when they argue for green jobs and funding green research.

  4. Give me a break Bastiat worshipers! It never fails to amaze me how many free-market delusional, needless to say polemical, people swarm the internet. Good attempt Brittany. While your facts are certainly correct, you know it better that your conveniency is not the goal of any R&D research, neither is any other corporation’s in that case. You wireless or GPS technology was that blood-ink that condemned many innocents to death. The rose-colored glasses you want us to see this advancement of technology is a little too crimson in reality. But having said that, the above commentators who claim their expertise on the broken window fallacy or opportunity cost are just as fallacious. To question government’s motive and wreath the likes of Monsanto to invent and to serve the progress of mankind is just precious.

  5. Think of the even better world we would have had if taxpayers had kept the $90 billion a year spent on military R&D, and allocated that money according to free market choices.

    By this reasoning of this blog, almost any type of federal government R&D can be justified—so-called spillover effects.

    The space program should be increased 50-fold by this reasoning. Agriculture R&D. Education.

    Indeed, I would guess that the military is the blackest of federal black holes, in that military R&D is geared to destruction, not production.

    • but if one or more countries WILL devote resources towards R&D AND as a direct result will end up with military and market competitive advantages as a result – do you need to join that contest?

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