Lobotomizing the Defense Brain
45 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2014 Last revised: 1 Mar 2015
Date Written: August 24, 2014
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: Suggested Citation