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The Review of Austrian Economics

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 371–396 | Cite as

Lobotomizing the defense brain

  • Christopher J. Coyne
Article

Abstract

Economists model national defense as a pure public good optimally provided by a benevolent and omnipotent “defense brain” to maximize social welfare. I critically consider five assumptions associated with this view: (1) that defense and security is a pure public good that must be provided by a national government, (2) that state-provided defense is always a “good” and never a “bad”, (3) that the state can provide defense in the optimal quantity and quality, (4) that state expenditures on defense are neutral with respect to private economic activity, and (5) that state-provided defense activities are neutral with respect to domestic political institutions. I discuss an alternative framework—the “individualistic view”—for analyzing defense provision and suggest it is superior for understanding reality.

Keywords

Defense brain Individualistic view Military-industrial complex National defense Organismic view Public bad Public good 

JEL classification

B25 H10 H40 H56 

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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsGeorge Mason UniversityFairfaxUSA

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