Patriotism and History

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Tue Oct 2 15:47:06 PDT 2001

Ian Murray wrote:

>Not to defend them but they may be 'using' a cumulative accounting
>strategy. One estimate of the cold war -I think using '47-'89- in
>terms of the defense budget was 9 trillion$. Add in environmental
>cleanup, indoctrination of the nation via school, films etc. and
>you're gonna get some big numbers over that time period.

Well yeah, but you've got to add up GDP over the same period too, no? Seymour Melman used to pull this stuff all the time, comparing cumulative spending on arms with the value of the capital stock - committing that statistical sin of comparing stocks and flows. US GDP from 1947-89 totaled over $63 trillion. "National defense" spending according to the NIPAs was about $5.3 trillion, or about 8% of the total. There's no point in stretching the numbers; they're bad enough as they are, and they make you look silly when you're caught.


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