The Waste of Wars

With kind permission from J.W. Smith, a major part of Chapter 14 of The World's Wasted Wealth II (Institute for Economic Democracy, 1994) has been reproduced here. (See the beginning of this chapter if you have not read it.) Also, please note that I do not make any proceeds from the sale of this book in any way.

To hell with the [peace] dividend. The Pentagon can keep it. We want the principal.23

David McReynolds, The Words and the Will to Talk About Change

If outside powers had not continually plundered their neighbors these past thirteen hundred years and had cooperatively shared capital, all societies could have progressively built their social capital (of which knowledge and experience are the most important component), and their citizens could be living in decent homes, could be educated, could have a respectable life, and could enjoy the relics of their past-European, Middle Eastern, Asian, Mayan, and Aztec buildings, statues, monuments, and treasures-while protecting the forests and soils from which all wealth comes.

While we can do nothing about the past except understand it, we can do something about the future. Instead of staying with the same neo-mercantilist pattern of interception and outright destruction of each other's wealth, the over-capitalized world has the knowledge, capital and labor-as well as the moral obligation-to capitalize the Third World, eliminate most poverty, and protect the air, water, and earth that sustain all life.

In the last chapter, we assumed the Earth's dispossessed population would double to seven billion in the next forty-five years and that it would require $140 billion per year (14 percent of the current $1 trillion spent yearly on arms) to provide the impoverished world with industrial tools. That cost could be reduced even further, and the world's standard of living raised even faster, if populations were stabilized or reduced.

Even now, two-fifths of the world have relatively stable population levels. But it will require peace, cooperation, and sharing for the rest of the world to develop the resources and knowledge to bring their populations and social production into balance while protecting the world ecosystem.

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