Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Marquette Student Government’s Anti-Iraq War Speaker

When Student Government wanted to placate conservatives on campus who complained about the leftist tilt of its speakers program, they invited a “conservative” speaker who in fact is a leftist opponent of the Iraq War.

The speaker, a film maker named Eugene Jarecki, appeared on The Daily Show this past Monday.

Jarecki does not come across as a bigot or an ego-maniac like Michael Moore, but his mind seems to somehow exist in a 1960s time warp.

He complains that “this society is so militarized,” and implies that we would have plenty of money for other worthwhile purposes if we didn’t spend so much on the military.

But in reality, defense spending has become, over the last 35 years, a smaller and smaller share of the Gross National Product.
With the U.S. defense budget headed north of $400 billion a year, and accounting for nearly half the military spending on the planet, you’d think that records were being broken. Well, they aren’t. As a percentage of GNP, military spending continues a decline that has been going on since the 1960s (when, because of the Vietnam war, defense spending was 10.7 percent of GNP). That went down to 5.9 percent of GNP in the 1970s and, despite a much heralded “defense build up” in the 1980s, still declined in the 1980s (to 5.8 percent.) With the end of the Cold War, spending dropped sharply again in the 1990s, to 4.1 percent. For the first decade of the 21st century, defense spending is expected to average 3.4 percent of GNP.
But Jarecki doesn’t seem to know this.

He’s a film maker, after all. He doesn’t have to worry about things like hard data.

And he doesn’t much worry about logic. He gives, as an example of the “militarization” of American society the fact that he saw “a lot of older ladies working in those arms plants, pushing bombs around.”

This is supposed to be terrible. But just why? Are we supposed to believe that the defense industry needs more age and gender discrimination?

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