Let’s start with this doozy from freshman GOP Rep. Ted Yoho over the weekend: “I think we need to have that moment where we realize [we’re] going broke. If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, that will sure as heck be a moment. I think, personally, it would bring stability to the world markets.”
Oh good, now we have a Congressman who actually believes that breaching the debt ceiling will bring “stability to world markets”. Because nothing says stability and confidence quite like defaulting on one’s debts and obligations.
These next two quotes can work in tandem, but only because they come from mutually exclusive positions:
House Speaker John Boehner on [not] raising the debt ceiling: “We are not going to pass a ‘clean’ debt-limit increase.”
And from the White House we have Treasury Secretary Jack Lew: “[Republicans] need to open the government. They need to fund our ability to pay our bills. And then we’re open to negotiation.”
So we have The White House refusing to sign anything but a clean increase in the debt-ceiling, and Boehner signalling his party’s intent to refuse to pass a clean increase in the debt-ceiling.
Compounded by the fact that Rep. Yoho is not the only member of his party to actually believe that defaulting on the debt-ceiling is a good thing — and good for the economy!! — and you start to wonder if these people can figure this out in the next 10 days. Probably not.
Photo: Medill DC
No, we aren’t going to live in a world without war, but the chart above and the corresponding work attributed to it show that as a global society, we’re devoting a smaller percentage of manpower and income to the military industry:
The black line is the average across countries of military spending as a percentage of GDP, using the Correlates of War (COW) estimate of total spending divided by World Bank GDP figures (which only start in 1960). The red line is the average across countries of armed forces per 1,000 population, again using COW estimates.
You see really striking long-run declines in the West, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and Asia. In these areas it almost looks as if demobilization from World War II has taken place gradually and over 60+ years. In Latin America and North Africa/Middle East, you see pretty striking declines since the end of the Cold War, and perhaps some decline in subSaharan Africa since around 2000.
One possible long-term explanation? Democracy:
On the domestic side of things, there is pretty good evidence that the spread of democracy has been a significant factor. Not worth getting into the details here, but if you look at the data country by country you find that on average, when countries transition to democracy their military spending and army sizes go down, quite substantially.* In fact they tend to go down when they transition from very autocratic to only somewhat autocratic (that is, to “anocracies”, or semi-democracies using the Polity data).