In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. – Dwight D. Eisenhower
Indeed, it’s long past time.
One of the main reasons Pentagon spending grows and grows (over the medium and long term it seems always to) is because communities become addicted to manufacturing weapons systems. It’s pretty hard for a member of Congress to vote against spending money on a tank or missile built in a small town somewhere in his or her district. The weapons mean jobs. They mean pensions. For the member of Congress they mean votes.
But we should be focusing on reducing our military outlays. We are no longer fighting the Soviet Union. Sure we have enemies, some industrial like an increasingly restive China, (Did I say enemy?) but the military should be much much leaner than it is today. With increasing spending pressures on the horizon communities should be preparing now.
The military is some of the biggest government there is. It is expensive and times will likely only get tighter in the next few years.
Given this reality, it makes sense for defense dependent areas to devise plans to diversify their local economies now, before more shifts in Pentagon spending leave them with few viable alternatives. A more diversified local economy is better in any case, since it shields communities from the inevitable ups and downs of Pentagon contracting. And economic development specialists agree that it is far better to plan before a crisis hits than try to scramble at the last moment when a key program is reduced or scaled back.