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developing countries

they want or need. Under these conditions, development inevitably suffers.

In militarized societies, even in the absence of war, valuable productive resources and their

outputs are channeled with priority to what I have elsewhere called “economically noncontributive

activity” in the military sector. Taking the central purpose of the economy to be

providing material wellbeing, all activities that use resources to produce goods and services can

be divided into one of two categories ― those that contribute to that purpose and those that

do not. Since consumer goods and services raise the present material standard of living, while

producer goods and services raise the future standard of living by increasing the economy’s

capacity to produce, the activities involved in providing both are “economically contributive.”

On the other hand, whatever else may be said for battle tanks, fighter planes, missiles, artillery,

and the services soldiers provide, they do not add to present material wellbeing as consumer

goods do, or to the economy’s capacity to produce standard-of-living goods and services in the

future, as producer goods do. Military goods and services are produced in the belief that they

enhance physical security. Though the purposes for which they are produced may be

important, and these goods and services may be very useful for the purposes they serve, they

do not directly contribute to increasing material wellbeing, the central purpose of the economy.

It is logical, then, to classify them as “economically non-contributive.” Military-oriented activity

is only one of many forms of non-contributive activity, but today, closing in on two decades after

the end of the Cold War, it is still one of the largest and most important in the world.

The tax base is generally much smaller and the difficulties of actually collecting taxes much

greater in developing countries than in the more developed world. Access to developmentoriented

foreign capital — whether in the form of grants, loans or foreign direct investment — is

also more limited, especially in countries that are conflict-ridden or politically unstable. The

diversion of public funds, including limited hard currency reserves, to military spending further

reduces the government’s ability to finance capital investments vital to development.

Virtually by definition, militarized societies are also likely to slight or completely overlook

nonmilitary options for dealing with what they perceive as threats to their internal or external

security. Domestic unrest, disaffection and dissidence tend to be seen as threats best dealt with

by force, rather than by negotiation or a serious attempt to try to understand and address the

underlying causes. More often than not this eventually exacerbates the underlying problems,

 

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