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Institutional Memory Stinks

 We recently came upon this quote from Defense secretary Robert Gates in a  New York Times article:

“…I think that we’re not likely to see significant cuts,” he said, adding to applause that “the defense budget at the end of the day is a pretty impressive stimulus for the economy.” 

It brought us back to an interview we had done with Economist John Kenneth Galbraith in 1979. We began production of a documentary called Arms Race and the Economy: A Delicate Balance. During interviews, we learned from experts that the arms race wasn’t just about defending the United States. The arms race was about power and politics spawned from a union of business, science, and academia and ruled by a self-anointed “priesthood.” By 1979 the Cold War mentality was rationalizing an endless military expansion that one insider described as “a self-licking ice cream cone.”  Economist John Kenneth Galbraith further explained how renewing the Cold War would destroy the civilian economy. He claimed it had already rigidified the capitalist system by bureaucratizing too much production for non-productive uses. He saw American industry becoming more like the Soviet Union, a planned economy designed to suit its own needs at the expense of the whole society.

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