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Is War Necessary for Economic Growth?: Military Procurement and Technology Development

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Military and defense-related procurement has been an important source of technology development across a broad spectrum of industries that account for an important share of United States industrial production. In this book, the author focuses on six general-purpose technologies: interchangeable parts and mass production; military and commercial aircraft; nuclear energy and Military and defense-related procurement has been an important source of technology development across a broad spectrum of industries that account for an important share of United States industrial production. In this book, the author focuses on six general-purpose technologies: interchangeable parts and mass production; military and commercial aircraft; nuclear energy and electric power; computers and semiconductors; the INTERNET; and the space industries. In each of these industries, technology development would have occurred more slowly, and in some case much more slowly or not at all, in the absence of military and defense-related procurement. The book addresses three questions that have significant implications for the future growth of the United States economy. One is whether changes in the structure of the United States economy and of the defense-industrial base preclude military and defense-related procurement from playing the role in the development of advanced technology in the future, comparable to the role it has played in the past. A second question is whether public support for commercially oriented research and development will become an important source of new general-purpose technologies. A third and more disturbing question is whether a major war, or the threat of major war, will be necessary to mobilize the scientific, technical, and financial resources necessary to induce the development of new general-purpose technologies. When the history of United States technology development in the next half century is written, it will focus on incremental rather than revolutionary changes in both military and commercial technology. It will also be written within the context of slower productivity growth than of the relatively high rates that prevailed in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s or during the information technology bubble that began in the early 1990s. These will impose severe constraints on the capacity of the United States to sustain a global-class military posture and a position of leadership in the global economy.


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Military and defense-related procurement has been an important source of technology development across a broad spectrum of industries that account for an important share of United States industrial production. In this book, the author focuses on six general-purpose technologies: interchangeable parts and mass production; military and commercial aircraft; nuclear energy and Military and defense-related procurement has been an important source of technology development across a broad spectrum of industries that account for an important share of United States industrial production. In this book, the author focuses on six general-purpose technologies: interchangeable parts and mass production; military and commercial aircraft; nuclear energy and electric power; computers and semiconductors; the INTERNET; and the space industries. In each of these industries, technology development would have occurred more slowly, and in some case much more slowly or not at all, in the absence of military and defense-related procurement. The book addresses three questions that have significant implications for the future growth of the United States economy. One is whether changes in the structure of the United States economy and of the defense-industrial base preclude military and defense-related procurement from playing the role in the development of advanced technology in the future, comparable to the role it has played in the past. A second question is whether public support for commercially oriented research and development will become an important source of new general-purpose technologies. A third and more disturbing question is whether a major war, or the threat of major war, will be necessary to mobilize the scientific, technical, and financial resources necessary to induce the development of new general-purpose technologies. When the history of United States technology development in the next half century is written, it will focus on incremental rather than revolutionary changes in both military and commercial technology. It will also be written within the context of slower productivity growth than of the relatively high rates that prevailed in the United States in the 1950s and 1960s or during the information technology bubble that began in the early 1990s. These will impose severe constraints on the capacity of the United States to sustain a global-class military posture and a position of leadership in the global economy.

32 review for Is War Necessary for Economic Growth?: Military Procurement and Technology Development

  1. 4 out of 5

    Michael Burnam-Fink

    Ruttan studies five technologies, machine tools and mass production, airplanes, nuclear power, space travel, and computers, showing the pivotal role that the military played in each of these. Ruttan writes well and easily, and explores unknown facets of these technologies, but I have two problems. First, this book dates from 2006, but seems much older. Nothing much has changed since the mid-90s, apparently. Secondly, while military funding has driven technologies, it's unclear if this is the Ruttan studies five technologies, machine tools and mass production, airplanes, nuclear power, space travel, and computers, showing the pivotal role that the military played in each of these. Ruttan writes well and easily, and explores unknown facets of these technologies, but I have two problems. First, this book dates from 2006, but seems much older. Nothing much has changed since the mid-90s, apparently. Secondly, while military funding has driven technologies, it's unclear if this is the best way, or even a good way to stimulate innovation and the economy. The military provides an alternate set of values, beyond a short-sighted profit motives, but shouldn't we have higher values as a nation than force? A good book to use on people who say that the government has no role in innovation, but not essential.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Linus Blomqvist

  3. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

  4. 4 out of 5

    Adam Harrison

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sasha

  7. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  8. 4 out of 5

    Johnny

  9. 5 out of 5

    Acquisitions

  10. 5 out of 5

    Natalie

  11. 4 out of 5

    Johanna

  12. 5 out of 5

    James Wilson

  13. 4 out of 5

    N

  14. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  15. 4 out of 5

    Çağlar Kurç

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nate Mundy

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mahadarma

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mike

  20. 5 out of 5

    Al Jones

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nir

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lana Jung

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alex Trembath

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mohamd.Faragahi

  25. 5 out of 5

    Renan Virginio

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie McGarrah

  27. 4 out of 5

    mis fit

  28. 4 out of 5

    Hawkgirl

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dan

  30. 5 out of 5

    Bret

  31. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  32. 5 out of 5

    Charles

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