Tuesday, October 19, 2004

"strategy of denial in the face of these realities"

The classic definition of an economist is someone who is trained to evaluate alternative uses of scarce resources. Recently a genuine professional has begun blogging, and it isn't good news for those formerly respected in the profession, who have moved on to partisan hackery (albeit, well paid hackery).

Professor Samwick has three posts skewering the NY Times resident former economist for truly unprofessional analysis propagated upon the ignorant readership of that paper. It is well deserved criticism, and simply unanswerable (though that hasn't stopped some from trying).

Today's Krugman column will offer Samwick another opportunity. As it does the Fly Under the Bridge Academy. It begins by criticizing George W. Bush for being unrealistic about the federal budget, and then makes a comparison:

It's exactly the same when it comes to the draft. Mr. Bush's claim that we don't need any expansion in our military is patently unrealistic; it ignores the severe stress our Army is already under. And the experience in Iraq shows that pursuing his broader foreign policy doctrine - the "Bush doctrine" of pre-emptive war - would require much larger military forces than we now have.

Which is a textbook example of the logical fallacy of the false analogy. Whether or not the United States needs to increase its military manpower, is beside the point. It's hard to believe Krugman is so stupid as not to realize this. As even a television newsman realizes it. We need to evaluate alternative methods increasing the military, to determine if it requires the reinstitution of the draft. And a brief look at the 30+ year history of our current all volunteer army makes Krugman's claim out to be every bit as bogus as his claims about the unemployment rate.

The draft was ended in 1973, along with the Vietnam war. At which time we downsized from the 3.5 million men and women in uniform at the peak of the fighting, to about 2.4 million by 1985. The implosion of the Soviet Union allowed George HW Bush to further reduce force levels to about 1.7 million by 1992. Bill Clinton further reduced it to about 1.4 million--which is where we are today.

And Paul Krugman's Kandidate is merely calling for an increase in force of 40,000. In a country with approximately 50 million people in the prime soldiering ages 18-30. Does a professional economist really not understand that it would merely be a matter of increasing recruiting efforts and perhaps a slight increase in pay and benefits?

And if Bush really does want to expand the military to pre-Clintonian levels, that history strongly suggests that we can do it within the strictures of market forces? Hard to believe Krugman doesn't.

No comments: