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« Some Economic Education Opportunities | Main | Graduate Study in Economics at GMU and the Mercatus Center »


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Friedman's thoughts on the subject:

I was also impressed by the documentary, "The Power of Nightmares" which I think of as a companion piece in many ways. It shows the psychological role of scaring people in building a large defense establishment. You can now view it in whole or part free of charge.

I don't find this argument convincing, for there are lots of examples in recent history of military spending being cut drastically - after WWI, after WWII, after the Korean War, after the Vietnam War, after the Cold War. If the military-industrial complex (cue evil mood music) had the rent-seeking power of, say, the agricultural lobby, surely there would never have disarmament on such a scale.

As for the psychology of fear driving up spending on weapons, how then to explain the supine response of the western democracies to the rise of Hitler in the 30s? (to take but one example from 20th century history in which people were not scared enough, despite eloquent warnings from Churchill and his allies. Indeed, far from being aided by rent seeking arms manufacturers, those who warned about the dangers of fascism were accused of being tools of the munitions industry and thereby discredited).

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