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U.S. Economy Is Paying Dearly for Resources Spent on Defense Buildup

June 28, 1987

Warren Bennis' column was a great disappointment, particularly for a professor of business administration at the University of Southern California. He grossly oversimplifies the sad plight of American business and the American people. Bennis also fails to place the blame on the U.S. politico-economic system, where it rightfully belongs.

During the first 150 years of our country's existence, it was a simple matter to develop and maintain a position as a leading industrial nation. In addition to the steady flow of cheap immigrant labor and ready natural resources, we could count on the British to maintain the safety of ocean shipping.

For the past 50 years, we have been taking over the defense burden of the Western world. It has proved to be an enormous load and an unproductive one. We are leaving our descendants a debt load that may soon become impossible to service and give us the double- and triple-digit inflation found in Latin America.

I think that the time is long overdue for the American public to understand that the constant outflow of capital into national defense is not only a moral issue but an economic one. It converts raw materials into goods that have no value to the civil economy, that don't provide food, shelter or transport. It is the biggest single reason for our inability to compete with Japan, which has an insignificant defense burden.

The defense industry drains the best of our technical manpower away from tasks that they should concentrate on for us to compete in the world marketplace.

Worst of all, the military perpetuates mediocrity in the manufacture of expensive, high-tech equipment. Defense contractors have become so accustomed to not having to take responsibility for their mistakes that they can't compete in the international marketplace when American taxpayers don't pick up the cost of defective designs and shoddy workmanship.

JOHN B. ONA

Hawthorne

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