Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Size & Influence of the Military-Industrial Complex 1

How large is the defense industry?  How has it influenced the advance of technology?
What is the Military-Industrial Complex?
This phrase was coined by President Eisenhower in his farewell address as President in 1960.  It has since that time become famous as a rallying cry for those who think that the United States is spending too much money on military affairs.  Here is a video of Eisenhower's classic speech.  If you cannot see it here is the link: http://youtu.be/8y06NSBBRtY

Expenditures in National Defense
click to enlarge via: wikipedia
How much does the United States spend in defense?  Last year is spent in excess of $712 billion dollars.  That is more expenditure than the military budgets of all of the rest of the countries in the world put together.  Here is a graph that can make the point more dramatically.  There is no doubt that the defense budget of the United States is a huge force in the economy of the country.  That would amount in 2009, to about $23,000 dollars per second in military expenditures.  We bring to you a video which is generally good, except for the immature ending, which seeks to simplify the solution to the problem of massive military expenditures.  If you cannot see this video as an embedded item here is the link: http://youtu.be/LkdIKAACKpI.

"Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields."
Actually this trend had started earlier in American history with the beginning of the Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations.  The Carnegie Foundation was established in 1911, while the Rockefeller Foundation was established in 1913.  As to why Carnegie and Rockefeller formed these foundations there is little doubt.  Both had great image problems with the American public due to their monopolistic business moves.  According to Daniel Kleinman in his book entitled, Politics on the Endless Frontier: Postwar Research Policy in the United States, these foundations provided both Carnegie and Rockefeller with a good public relations effort.  These two foundations changed all of research in the United States and formed the basis for the government model that would come later.  With the onset of World War I, these foundations created the social networks between scientists, government officials, business leaders and foundation managers that would prove to critical later.*  Kleinman states,
The establishment of very large American foundations, which began in the late nineteenth century, represented the beginning of a whole new phase in the American tradition of charity and altruism.  Up until roughly the time of the Civil War "benevolence" and "good works" were interpreted by the wealthy both in the East and the Middle West to involve obligation of personal service and stewardship.**
From 1850 t0 1940 scientific research changed increasingly from someone working out in his garage to University professional scientists working in laboratories.  This new breed of scientists, were much more dependent on external sources of funding.  Yale University led the way in establishing the research model of graduate study, but it was John Hopkins University that "actively encouraged investigations by faculty in the 1870s.

"In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity."
In this area Eisenhower foresaw where things would go in scientific research.  But this trend already existed before World War II in America.  Kleinman states:
...intellectual priorities [have become] less totally controlled by purely academic interests and more open to resource allocation decisions in [nonacademic] ...employment structures"; scientists' claims to, and control over the increasingly expensive laboratory facilities required for the highest reputations [have progressively become]...mediated by non-academic interests and goals.
He goes further on to say that, "At some level, these spheres are distinct and possess independent logics and are composed of actors with distinctive projects and interests."  Thus the way that a scientist views the world is affected by the "...values of nonscientific social spheres."

In the next part of this series, we will continue to illustrate quotes from Eisenhower's speech and support it with facts and figures.

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