Worthwhile Canadian Initiative’s Frances Woolley argues that defence spending is not necessarily a public good:
Yet the connection between spending money on the military and providing defence against external or internal threats is something to be established with empirical evidence, not assumed. For example, during the Cold War, millions were spent on huge underground bunkers to house the government in event of nuclear attack. These VIP-only bunkers contributed little or nothing to the safety of average Canadians.
Military spending can be worse than useless. Not all governments, and not all armies, are nice people bent on making the world a better, cleaner, safer place. Some are interested in suppressing internal dissent, capturing resources, or other forms of rent-seeking behaviour. For those oppressed by their nation’s army, spending on the military is a public bad, not a public good.
I have a feeling that if I had taken a course by Prof. Woolley while I was at Carleton, I would have enjoyed it.
(But if Prof. Bellamy or Prof. Hay are reading – which I’m sure they’re not – I loved your Econ courses, too.)