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Society's Security and Well-Being Depends Upon Redirecting Huge Outlays for Defense

July 16, 1989

Regarding the July 2 board of economists column, "Debunking Defense Budget Myths":

Murray Weidenbaum tries hard to make the case that current levels of defense spending are quite benign and that our economy "is not readily propelled or retarded by the small share of (gross national product) devoted to military outlays." While he accuses both sides in the military spending debate of being "self serving," he, too, picks statistics that bolster his thesis and ignores those that indicate otherwise.

While it is true that military spending is "only" 6.5% of GNP, it is also 55% of government spending (exclusive of Social Security and Medicare). We have a tremendous infrastructure budget shortfall, a poor educational system, much homelessness and poverty, a degrading environment and a huge budget deficit. The only place to get the funds to address these needs is from the $300 billion spent each year to defend ourselves against ever less threatening enemies.

Our security and well-being as a society are directly related to our redirecting resources from the military to meeting these basic needs. How we respond will determine if we will "continue on a path of substantial economic growth," Weidenbaum's thesis notwithstanding.

JOSEPH C. KRESSE JR.

Santa Monica

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