While conventional history is biographical and anecdotal and resists the concept of theory, Peace Economics finds that theory works very well, thank you. Empire Economics is a new science that incorporates the new findings of Peace Economics. Here are some of the key concepts of this new framework I consider a backbone to the jellyfish of conventional history, a backbone to the jellyfish of the social sciences.
Military spending is like capital investment turned into political investment instead. Resources used in military spending are like those used in capital investment or manufacturing or construction except that they are focused on political goals rather than economic goals. Diverting those resources to a non-economic purpose represents an “opportunity cost” to society that permanently reduces the economic growth of that society by the amount of those resources used. These economically misdirected research and capital resources may significantly enhance military capability and effectiveness instead of enhancing civilian economy capability and effectiveness. This trade-off is the “opportunity cost” of military spending. This is the principal reason empires eventually fall behind another emerging nation and lose their premier empire status. The economic loss of military spending is immediately apparent in each year, it is measurable and direct in its impact year after year after year. Alleged research benefits of military spending are minuscule compared to the lost capital investment growth. Foreign military sales are also dwarfed by the large military expenditures and often subsidized by military foreign aid.
Because of the opportunity cost principal, empire economies are gradually eroded until another low military spending emerging nation overtakes them economically. Since usually the stronger economy wins wars, the changing economic fortunes eventually lead to adverse political consequences, like losing a hegemonic war. This explains why the slogan “peace through strength” is terribly misleading. The illusion is that more spent on the military makes a nation stronger, but the reality is that that additional spending weakens the nation year after year eroding the economic standing of the nation and exposing the nation to an increasing over time chance of losing a hegemonic war to one of the upstart nations.
Minds That Hate
The Beatles song “Revolution” says we all want to change the world, but if you talk about destruction lead by people with minds that hate, leave me out. The framework of minds that hate becomes especially consequential in that empires create or react to enemies. When a whole people view another people as their enemies, this is a corrosion of the mind into a mind that hates. Killing another person is the worst that you can do to them. When killing is the main occupation of troops, this has a corrosive effect on the persons who are the troops. Even in World War II 70% of the troops never fired a shot in anger at another person. It is extremely difficult to get one person to kill another. This natural tendency was overcome in the fifties in America with training techniques that made it easier for troops to kill. Murder rates rose after Vietnam in America and based on seventies eighties and nineties data, murder rates among America, Germany, Italy, and Japan were almost perfectly correlated with military spending as a percentage of the economy. With the end of the Cold War both military spending and murder and crime rates dropped in the leading Western countries. But they dropped further and faster in Europe as Europe demilitarized more that America did.
Social Decay Explained
In recent decades, the G7 countries have shown varying levels of social decay in proportion to the economic militarization of the country. This association with military spending is so strong suggesting that the economic decay produced by military spending spills over into the social decay in statistics like mental health, infant mortality, diabetes, teenage births, prisoners, murders, and social mobility and income inequality. The connection seems so direct that alternative explanations of the decay of empires such as moral decay leading to economic decay are clearly backwards, as causality shows the logic is the other way around. The military spending leads to economic decay in year by year analysis, whereas morality is a long-term issue. So, if morality or taking the money supply off the gold standard were causes rather than effects, how would that explain the annual variation of military spending (net of deficits) effect on the economy? Clearly the military economic effect is primary. Another issue that arises is the idea that empires will eventually fall over a long enough time period. This assumes a kind of complacency comes over a population that leads to the fall, somewhat like the morality theory earlier discussed. Again, this theory is defied by the reaction to military spending changes shown by the economy. Both in the sixties and nineties in America, lowering military spending lead to great economic booms, hardly a sign of the so-called inevitable decline theory. Military spending changes do change the economic and social structure of the country, suggesting that long term decline is not inevitable, but in fact is caused by the level of military spending.
Politically, leaders are afraid to be shown to be cowards. This often translates into being in favor of the latest war suggestion regardless of the merits. Oddly enough, this suggests that warlike leaders may be cowards, because it takes a great deal of political courage to oppose war. But people assume the opposite, perhaps because of the sacrifice required in wartime seeming so noble and courageous, at least at the level of the individual soldier. This combined with the reverse economics that those who command the most military resources are empowered the most in the political system, as huge military contracts are easily steered into the political districts of presidents and congressional leaders, and especially the committee members of the key military spending authorization and disbursement committees. This runs completely counter to the national drain on the economy of military spending, so much and so visibly so that many come to believe that military spending can stimulate economic growth. This belief does not look at the complete picture as manufacturing states lose jobs and income during military buildups. The victim states and regions tend to blame themselves rather than recognize how the military scam works at the political level, rewarding those that seize the military resources away from the life-giving civilian economy.
Paradoxically, the oil loaded military aircraft (one third of all jet fuel is used by the military) and vehicles (M1 tank gets one mile for two gallons) people at the pentagon are concerned about how climate change is destabilizing the world and creating many warlike opportunities for local leaders to exploit droughts and other natural occurrences of so-called global weirding. This has led to the pentagon scrutinizing my climate work and the CIA scrutinizing my military spending work. As so often seems to be the case, the micro dominates the macro, as people are so overwhelmed by the big picture that they concentrate on the little picture. This is a good tactic in passing controversial budgets. Give in on a small issue and people will vote the huge budget through without too much scrutiny. Just look at the hoopla over $5 billion dollars for a wall or other barrier in America. Meanwhile, 800,000 federal employees will forgo about $2.5 billion in paychecks on January 12, 2019, as the issue drags on. $5 billion could give universal pre-K education to all children in America. Trade war, shutdown, and military could fuel recession.
Of 78 papers on my academia website, “Stages of Empire” is the 6th most popular:
Please cite this work as follows:
Reuschlein, Robert. (2019, January 8), “Need to Know About Empire”, Madison, WI: Real Economy Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.expertclick.com/NewsRelease/Need-to-Know-About-Empire,2019166287.aspx
Dr. Peace, Professor Robert Reuschlein, Real Economy Institute, Nominated Vetted 2016 (2 Web Looks), Given Odds 2017 (3 Web Looks), Strongly Considered 2018 (48 Web Looks, one million words) Nobel Peace Prize, A Favorite in 2019 Nobel Peace Prize October 4th.
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