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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/6156/reaping-cannon-fodder/

Reaping Cannon Fodder

January 19, 2007 by

By supporting the minimum wage has the curmudgeonly Republican Party finally developed a concern for the economically downtrodden worker? Does a newly more-conciliatory administration now see the need to cooperate with the new Democrat majority in Congress? Or maybe the administration discovered in this reviled policy a means of advancing other goals — goals even more odious than the effects of the minimum wage. Maybe it will find new cannon fodder among the unemployed. FULL ARTICLE

{ 14 comments }

David St. Hubbins January 19, 2007 at 8:39 am

More likely it was just the common case of Bush folding whenever he is not sure he is going to win.

Tim Kern January 19, 2007 at 12:34 pm

You say, “No, raising its own minimum wage was far too expensive for the military to consider. And the increase in costs such a move would entail would make world domination look like an even worse deal than it already appears to be.”

Dude, er, Mr. Potts, um, world domination has no upside unless the dominator is willing and able to exploit the dominated. All the US is doing is fiddling around! The Army conquers Iraq, so do we take the oil and treasures, and enslave the population? Heck, no. We are leaving those options to the Iranians or the Chinese or somebody else. It’s just dumb.

Reactionary January 19, 2007 at 1:06 pm

The raise in the minimum wage was the trade-off for Bush’s immigration bill that the Republican Congress would not pass.

David Spellman January 19, 2007 at 1:24 pm

This article was one of those epiphany moments for me. Brilliantly insightful! We will never know whether there was a conscious plan to raise the minimum wage to improve recruiting, but it is such a ingenious idea that it may very well have been the case.

In any event, it is true that raising the minimum wage does improve the government’s ability to recruit soldiers. And the timing couldn’t be any more fortuitous. But maybe I should support the minimum wage as a means to keep my sons from being drafted? Now that I see the truth…

Som January 19, 2007 at 2:18 pm

No wonder I see all those hilarious military commercials again, where the student is trying to convince their parents that joining the military is a great idea for their education.

yes ignorance is very much a renewable resource.

Reactionary January 19, 2007 at 3:00 pm

“… that if the price of a good (or service, like labor) is raised, less of it will be bought.”

All other things being equal, of course. The hypothesis should be demonstrable by showing a surge in unemployment and/or a surge in military recruiting in response to past increases in the minimum wage.

I think the answer is far more prosaic than the author’s fanciful hypothesis. Bush now faces a Democratic Congress, and has given them their long-sought minimum wage increase in exchange for his long-sought immigration bill.

Jack Maturin January 19, 2007 at 3:24 pm

It’s interesting that Lenin introduced the New Economic Policy, when his early socialist economic plans collapsed, and that now the Republicans are boosting the minimum wage in order to increase a reserve army of the unemployed, to create a larger pool of potential body bag victims. It seems whenever government policy really breaks down, even demagogues turn to Austrian principles to get themselves out of the holes of their own making. This begs the question; are there two groups of Austrian economists in the world? Are these two groups composed of those of us on the light side, usually supporters of Mises.org, who want to use the truth of Austrian economics to benefit all of mankind, and those on the dark side, usually in government, who want to use the truth of Austrian economics to benefit themselves and their friends at the cost of the rest of mankind?

It’s difficult to believe that anyone in the Stupid Party would be intelligent enough and machiavellian enough to deliberately raise the minimum wage bar to boost the reserve unemployed army of future body bag victims; but you never know! The modern American Empire and its ideological precursors, the Roman, Spanish, and British Empires, didn’t become world-girdling monsters because of stupidity and luck. Maybe the Stupid Party isn’t so stupid after all.

Sam January 19, 2007 at 8:04 pm

That’s what I’ve been saying all along Jack Maturin. Empires have taken control over vast areas and large population and got wealthy from it. Everyone doesn’t have to play nice with everyone else to become rich and powerful.

Paul Marks January 20, 2007 at 8:35 am

The minimum wage increase is nothing to do with the dark plots of President Bush – it is THE VOTERS who are to blame.

The majority voted Democrat and a minimum wage increase was one of their main policies. Also in every State where a minimum wage increase was on the ballot it passed (normally by a big margin)- so a veto from President Bush would be political suicide. Would you like President Bush (and Republicans generally) to act in a more free market way? Then convince the majority of voters that specific government Welfare State programs and regulations should be rolled back – I do not know about Mr Bush as an individual person, but certianly most Republcians would be happy to cut Welfare State spending and repeal economic regulations IF THEY THOUGHT THERE WERE VOTES IN DOING SO.

Of course the Congress does not have the power under the Constitution of the United States to set a mimimum wage – but Constitutional limits on economic regulations have long been a dead letter (almost anything is called “regulating interstate commerce” these days, just as the PURPOSE of the powers granted to Congress “the common defense and general welfare” has been transformed into a “general welfare power” in-its-self to allow Congress to spend taxpayers money on just about anything).

As for the wars: The war in Afghanistan was harldy optional (as the Taliban supported the terrorists who attacked the United States).

As for the war in Iraq, this may well have been a mistake (although there was no clear end to the 1991 war – there was endless trouble with Saddam in both the area and beyond), but it was hardly a dark Bush plot. The present war is basically a President Wilson style war for democracy, a mistaken policy perhaps (after all President Wilson’s intervention in World War One, although there was a U.boat justification for it, was not in the national interests of the United States – or in the long term interests of the world), but it is not some self serving scheme by President Bush or by “corporate America”.

Daniel M. Ryan January 20, 2007 at 11:28 am

Sam wrote: “That’s what I’ve been saying all along Jack Maturin. Empires have taken control over vast areas and large population and got wealthy from it. Everyone doesn’t have to play nice with everyone else to become rich and powerful.”

I recently read a book on the decline of the Roman Empire that suggested the strategy of successful Empire is a little more involved than simple conquest.

You may have heard of “good cop-bad cop” as an interrogation technique. Rome used a variant of it, called “bad legionary, good administrator.” The linchpin of this strategy, like the good-cop-bad-cop stratagem itself, is that the good administrator outranked the bad legionaries, including the top commander of them. The bad legionaries conquered; the good administrators brought law and access to Roman culture, after calling off the “dogs” of the legions.

Yes, what made this strategy of Empire work was civilian control of the military. The military put up with it because the administrator was often a retired veteran. or owed something to one.

sione January 20, 2007 at 1:43 pm

How many troops have been injured in Iraq so far? Does anyone know?

What about the deaths?

Sione

Vanmind January 20, 2007 at 2:42 pm

Yeah, I’ve been saying the same thing about gang-membership proliferation.

Is the minimum wage limiting job prospects for you as an urban youth? No problem, just get yourself set up for a good jump-in.

Gang members make for better military recruits. They’ve already relinquished their individual identities for “the group,” they’ve already concluded that viloent confrontation is the best way to solve problems, and many are already familiar with pointing firearms at other human beings.

N. Joseph Potts January 20, 2007 at 9:25 pm

Sione – Do you mean American and Iraqi troops, or do you mean those two groups plus the “insurgents” opposing them? They’re ALL “troops,” and any of the types is as susceptible to injury as the other. Their casulaties are, in any case, outnumbered by the civilian casualties, so troop casualties are kind of moot to me.
Now, as for the nature and causes of their injuries, there is a GREAT difference among the groups. American fighters in a position to gain a medical discharge have a great incentive to fake or exaggerate injuries, particularly in the huge playground of mental traumas – which ARE quite real, but invite very profitable fraud all the same.
So as for the statistics of soldiers receiving medical discharges from injuries sustained in or from Afghanistan or Iraq, these are probably overstated under the conditions described above.
The deaths (now pushing 3,000), on the other hand, are probably pretty accurate as concerns members of the American military. But you might also want to consider contractors for the American miltary, American and otherwise.
There’s plenty of death and casualties for everyone. I’m quite satisfied they aren’t remotely justified, whatever the numbers.

Sione January 21, 2007 at 12:34 pm

Joseph

I was thinking about US troops. The number injured is not well reported out here. In particular I was thinking of the amputees and the permanently disabled. A colleague mentioned that military surgeons work to a “two hour” rule. If a limb can be saved within two hours, it is. If not, is gets chopped. He also mentioned that the survival rate for injured US soldiers in the Iraq War is higher than previous conflicts because soldiers are able to be attended to almost immediately after receiving an injury. There will be a lot more survivors than previous conflicts- some bearing horrific disfigurement. He reckons that most of the patients attended to in the US military hospitals are Iraqi civilians… They, of course, don’t get evacuated out to Germany for more specialist attention afterwards.

You make an interesting point regarding the death and injury toll of Iraqi combatants. Does anyone know what that would be? Has it been recorded? Chances are it’s not accurately known.

Civilian deaths and injuries are unacceptible. I’ve heard reports of civilian deaths exceeding 30,000 but it is likely way more than that. Injuries, who knows? Of course added to that tally is the sicknesses, injuries and deaths that occurred because of the decade of sanctions (which were really an undeclared war against the Iraqis). And there’s those conveniently forgotten deaths and injuries form the first war on Iraq and its aftermath.

How many contractors (American and otherwise) have been killed an injured? I hadn’t considered them. Has that information been reported?

Is any of this justified? No, it’s not. One is reminded of a book, “Civilian into Soldier” by John A Lee. He writes about World War One and the experiences of a young man on the front line (likely he is writing from his own experiences). In one section of the book he talks about the war as a great machine which renders everything down into meat, flesh, wreckage and ruin. This is shortly after he encounters the results of an artillery bombardment on an area immediately behind the lines. He describes horses and men rendered down into meat, shreds of flesh and splinters of bone. He describes carts and wagons smashed into pieces of firewood. He writes about all the supplies, products of Man’s manufacturing enterprise and ability to make useful goods, smashed into uselessness- consumed by fire, consumed for no good purpose, now useful to no-one at all. One can taste his disgust. But the machine continues to be fed. No-one stops it. He feels it will only pause when all is exhausted and then the machine will hibernate until it is ready to be called to feast once again. It’s a chilling read.

Remember the jingoistic media on the occasions of the launch of Iraqi invasions #1 & #2? What a contrast to Lee’s description of war. One wonders whether today’s media have the memories of elephants or the hides of the rhinoserous when it comes to confronting their breathless excitment in promotion of wars on Iraq. Perhaps Borat got it right…

***

It appears that more and more people in the US are coming around to the view that the Iraq War is not going to be winnable. That being the case, once President Bush departs for his retirement there would not be the need for the new administration (a Democrat administration is more than likely) to pretend the invasion was a good idea. They could evacuate the military. Is this likely to occur or will they have the military fight on? What’s the expectation?

Sione

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