Lobotomizing the Defense Brain

45 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2014 Last revised: 1 Mar 2015

Christopher J. Coyne

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 24, 2014

Abstract

Economists often model national defense as a pure public good optimally provided by a benevolent and omnipotent "defense brain" to maximize social welfare. I critically consider five assumptions associated with this view: (1) that defense and security is a pure public good that must be provided by a national government, (2) that state-provided defense is always a "good" and never a "bad", (3) that the state can provide defense in the optimal quantity and quality, (4) that state expenditures on defense are neutral with respect to private economic activity, and (5) that state-provided defense activities are neutral with respect to domestic political institutions. I discuss an alternative framework — the "individualistic view"— for analyzing defense provision and suggest it is superior for understanding reality.

Keywords: defense brain, military-industrial complex, national defense, public bad, public good

JEL Classification: H10, H40, H56

Suggested Citation

Coyne, Christopher J., Lobotomizing the Defense Brain (August 24, 2014). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 14-34. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2486268 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2486268

Christopher J. Coyne (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

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