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The merits of Trump's economic agenda

  • 09 August 2016


The relentlessly negative depiction of Donald Trump in American, Australian and other English-speaking media is as fascinating as it is suspicious. It is one subject where there is not even a pretence of journalistic balance.

Trump is depicted as offensive, bigoted, racist, sexist, psychologically unbalanced, an enormous threat to democracy, a security threat, a puppet of the Russians, the 'Siberian candidate' and worse.

Google the words 'Trump' and 'Hitler' and 23 million hits come up, including images of the Republican presidential candidate with a photo-shopped moustache. The Daily Beast opines that he is not really a 'Hitler'; he is more 'like Goebbels'.

Trump certainly has some troubling attitudes. But a different perspective emerges when his utterances are examined from a financial and economic perspective. Although his message is far from consistent, there is a semblance of good sense.

To understand, we need to start with the famous speech by President Eisenhower in 1961. 'In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.'

More than half a century later the military industrial complex Eisenhower feared would emerge dominates the globe. America spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined. Meanwhile, the nation's physical and social infrastructure is crumbling, in part because almost all of the Federal Budget is taken up by military expenditure and Medicare (health care for people over 65).

America has almost 1000 bases around the world compared with Russia's three and China's two (it is planning to expand the number in the Middle East).

The disastrous war in Iraq, fought on a false pretext, was hugely expensive. Economists Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes calculated that the true cost of the second Iraq War was $US3 trillion, not the $50 billion projected by the White House at the start of the war. The waste in lives from America's wars is well documented; less examined is the massive financial waste.


"Trump is on solid ground when suggesting that heavy military investment is bad economics and a major factor in what he calls America's 'decline'."


Trump represents a serious threat to those who thrive in this military-industrial system. He persistently questions why America spends so heavily on NATO, has suggested that a good relationship with Russia might be economically beneficial and has implied that excessive militarism is linked to