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Conservative Disconnect II

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:

Bill Brockman is dismayed that “the defense of the country” is based “on budgetary factors rather than geopolitical ones” (Letters, March 15).

One should not be dismayed at inescapable reality.

First, regardless of the merits of an ever-more-mighty military, resources used to provide it are scarce.  Not even the most sublime and superpower-ful government can successfully ignore costs in attempts to ensure that military provision is based exclusively on geopolitical considerations.  To insist otherwise is the conservatives’ equivalent of “Progressives'” insistence that government can successfully ignore costs in attempts to ensure that health-care provision is based exclusively on medical considerations.

Second, Mr. Brockman assumes without justification that all decisions to raise the Pentagon’s budget are free of politics and, therefore, are warranted.  But if Mr. Brockman is correct that today’s cuts in the defense budget are driven by rash and irresponsible politics, he has no good reason to suppose that yesterday’s increases in the defense budget were driven by some different and more-enlightened force.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030


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