The dentist asked me the other day whether I wanted any cosmetic work done on my teeth. I said, "No." I’m not likely to invest the GNP of the average African village of one hundred people to make my teeth a little prettier. It doesn’t take much to set me off.
I thought about the "Cosmetic Industry". Oh boy! We’ve got a "Cosmetic Industry", and an "Entertainment Industry", and probably the Associated Federation of Organizations "Industry" too. We are told that they are all important parts of our "vibrant" economy. Well, I concede that they at least move money around, I guess that anything that moves money around is an industry. So apparently the "Car Theft Industry" is also an important part of our economy; it sure moves money around. Mostly it moves money from relatively well off people who have cars and insurance to those people who have neither. "Industry" used to mean the hard work that resulted in the construction of something. Now it seems to mean anything at all. And some people will buy anything. Unfortunately, this broadening of the meaning hasn’t been accompanied by a qualification of the word’s positive connotation. We hear that all "industry" must be good, right? Anything that moves money around is productive. This brings me to the "Defense Industry".
Now since we are spending a few trillion dollars of Defense Industry money over in Iraq, it made me wonder about how that money is moving around. Well we pay for the bombs, we pay for transporting the bombs to Iraq, we pay the folks there to drop the bombs. But it doesn't end there. We have to pay to replace the bombs and apparently, we’ll pay to replace all the things that the bombs blew up (except for the bodies). There is a fallacious theory of economics (is THAT a redundancy?) that deals with the town glazier’s child who goes out at night and breaks windows so that his dad will have plenty of work replacing them. The theory goes on to posit that this is ultimately good for everyone since it keeps the money moving around, (the glazier buys glass from a wholesaler and meat from the butcher, the butcher buys grain from the miller, the miller buys... etc. Ad infi ni dum) . Our Defense Industry is the ultimate window breaker. Money that is spent on things that go BOOM and make other things disappear can’t be money well spent; I don’t care how fast it moves money around. The economic theory? An economist is to a mathematician what an astrologer is to an astronomer (or a cosmetic surgeon is to a doctor).
I’m not saying that we don’t need a Defense Industry, we do. I’d just like to see them defending us instead of Baghdad, especially our National Guard; they used to guard the Nation- ( rhymes with fashion al Guard). Back when G. W. Bush joined the National Guard, NONE, not one of them went to the real war. So he wasn’t a draft dodger, he was a combat dodger. I was too. I just admit it.
So what am I to do with the money I’ll not be spending on my teeth? (Is this where it all started?)
As a cynic I believe that even if I were to send all that money (or even more, were I to do the "Jesus and Mother Theresa thing" and relinquish every bit of my resources) to Africa, or anywhere, there would surely be some scammer or consultant or government official on hand to skim off the majority of the good stuff for themselves. Then they’d probably figure out a way to get a US government grant to help them procure a permanent subsidy (paid for by the taxpayer) to help them maintain their pipeline to the money and property. I don’t know of ANY lobbyists that are protecting me and my money...
This hasn’t stopped me from giving. But I’m damn careful about how I give. After all, I get to give to the Defense Industry each and every pay check whether I want to or not. By the way my dentist is a pretty good musician, he sings along with the radio as he drills. I like that.