Bill H.3736

What is there to feel good about in H.3736? On the face of it if some of my tax money is going to go to keeping jobs in Massachusetts I’d rather they were jobs not involving the military. And yet in this supposedly liberal state only two State Senators opposed it. Perhaps there’s something I’m missing.

Background from Globe:

5 replies on “Bill H.3736”

  1. Basically, the consensus was that many jobs in Massachusetts depend on defense contracting, much of which spins off around the military bases. It’s a jobs decision — we want to keep federal money flowing into our economy. The theory is that for relatively short money, we can make Massachusetts materially more attractive to federal investment.

    I take your point that we’d rather see jobs be about peace than about war, but I don’t think that’s the choice we face. I think we still have a lot of people who are underemployed or out of the work force and we need an all-of-the-above approach to job creation.

    The prevailing opinion in Washington is that we still live in a dangerous world and that our country needs to be prepared to defend itself. As long as that is the national posture, we at the state level would like the resources expended for preparedness to be expended here.

  2. I think part of what people are objecting to is that the existing system of corporate welfare, where jurisdictions compete to offer the biggest breaks to corporations in the hope that they will come to them and bring jobs, is already counterproductive enough. It’s farcical for states also to feel like they have to compete to bring federal military facilities to their states. Bases and manufacturing facilities should be located according to defense needs, not according to which state is willing to route the most state revenue away from the purposes of health and education and roads towards the purposes of destruction.

    It’s not as if the military is starving for dollars. We spend enormously too much on it already. It would be one thing if Massachusetts’ bases were dilapidated or their facilities were inadequate, but they’re awash in funds already. As Sen. Jehlen noted, we have many things we could spend money on. Where’s the evidence either that military spending is the most effective way to create jobs, or that any bases would close without the money?

    As far as I recall, the multiplier effect for military spending is actually very poor. We should recall Eisenhower, and not waste state money on federal military responsibilities.

    “The worst to be feared and the best to be expected can be simply stated. The worst is atomic war.The best would be this: a life of perpetual fear and tension; a burden of arms draining the wealth and the labor of all peoples; a wasting of strength that defies the American system or the Soviet system or any system to achieve true abundance and happiness for the peoples of this earth. Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms in not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

  3. Yes, Alex, that’s exactly my concern. It makes me think of the
    fragility of Ireland’s boom based on low corporate tax rates to draw
    in computer companies, how badly the people have made out there since
    the crash. Or is the clout Fidelity seemed to have around here (do
    they still now that they’re moving so many jobs out to NC and Texas?)
    another example?

    But this is more serious to me. If the dominant view in Washington is
    that the world is dangerous and the U.S.’s military expenditure is at
    the right level or too low to meet that danger, that’s a view I’d like
    to see change. I see hope in the significant numbers of people in
    states like Massachusetts and Vermont who agree with me to one degree
    or another. But against that I think of quote I read recently from
    Upton Sinclair: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something,
    when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” So if it’s
    reasonable to see here the Pentagon in the role of monopsonist taking
    privileges, then even worse to me than the idea of them playing off
    states for dollars is the idea of them playing off states to gather up
    constituents to share a personal stake in the growth of the military
    industrial complex. From that globe article we have the fact that MA
    is the fifth highest recipient of defense contracts but only 14th by
    population. At the same time remember Barney Frank a couple years ago
    doing a great job of pushing the idea that the U.S. needs to choose
    between upward military budget trajectories and keeping social
    programs. So on the one hand you have figures like Barney Frank but on
    the other this pay cheque interest falling in conflict with what
    people like him might have accomplished.

    At the same time I have trouble critizing Senator Brownsberger and
    others for doing for their constituents. Yet there are other states
    (e.g. South Carolina) with constituents who are in far worse shape
    economically who seem unlikely to ever push the pacifist or
    near-pacifist agenda at all. Maybe it would be nice to lose to them on
    this particular game, gradually over time.

    Finally, in the case of Hanscomb and Lincoln Labs, I wonder how much
    lubrication the Pentagon actually needs. How many places are there
    like Lincoln Labs with schools like MIT to draw on?

  4. Will,

    Let the military spending go elsewhere or simply be cut from the national budget because they have nowhere to spend it . Were the U.S. military primarily about national defense, I might think otherwise, but from the great wall in reverse being built to contain China (see Jeju Island, Okinaawa, the Philippines, Australia, and Afghaninistan, plus the 7th fleet and militarization of space) to our bases in anything but democratic Bahrain, and with the additional $200 billion being spent to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal and delivery systems (which if ever used would end all life on earth as we know it) U.S. military spending and preparations are about empire and maintaining the Pentagon doctrine of “full spectrum dominance.”

    Like the military bases across New England that went to the South during the Vietnam War, let’s let these jobs, which are so closely related to inflicting death and destruction, go elsewhere or to nowhere at all.

    We need to end our complicity in the preparations for endless wars, or worse, and if necessary from our own bootstraps invest in life affirming industries and job creation,


  5. I respect the passion on this issue.

    My recollection is that Barney usually voted for that jet engine in Lynn, although at the end of his career he turned on it.

    I’m against waste in the military, but as a state elected official, I feel more direct responsibility for people in Massachusetts who are unemployed and underemployed.

    In the debate on this issue, we heard not so much about bases as places for storing weapons and troops — that doesn’t make much sense in MA as a location — but as research facilities in material science, etc.

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