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Maybe in a past age, deep and wasteful US military budgets actually did benefit most Americans. But, personally, I haven't see any real return on investment.

On the other hand, having lived in Northern Virginia over the last decade, I have noticed a lot more Ferraris and Lamborghinis on the roads. So, at least someone is benefiting.

There are two Lockheed Martin campuses in my city. My city is the "Simulation Capital of the World" because of big money defense contracts. I can't begin to imagine the number of good, solid, upper middle class engineering and related jobs are in my city due to the bloated military budget.

You know what I wish? I wish we could put all those good, solid, upper middle class engineering jobs to work on our nation's infrastructure, medical device engineering, next-gen power generation, whatever, something useful to pass onto future generations--and directly useful, not just the "useful as a side-effect" that military work sometimes ends up being.

Says the man typing on the internet. The amount of tech produced because it initially had military applications is staggering. Medical advances and next gen power are both things of massive utility to the military and they plough large amounts of money into research for it.

They aren't "useful as a side effect" they are useful because no-one else is willing to spend the amount of money the military is. No-one else spends hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipping high school drop out employees.

I think the "useful as a side effect" comment stems from the fact that the money is being spent to develop things that are primarily for military applications. It just so happens that oftentimes, those applications/technologies can be applied wholly or partially for public uses as well. However, if your end goal is to improve civilian life and infrastructure then development via the military almost certainly isn't the most efficient mechanism to accomplish that goal.

That's not to say that military doesn't have its uses, but if public benefit is your main goal then it almost assuredly would be better to create some type of agency or organization that was explicitly tasked and organized in such a way to meet those goals.

That doesn't happen in the American system simply because there is nothing your average American respects more than the military. It is politically safer to give money to the military than to $civilian_project, and it's politically easier to defend that budget from cuts than any other item. (Which doesn't mean that cuts to the military budget don't happen, but they happen less frequently -- and you know when they happen because the media will quickly raise a stink about it)

I think that if you dig into it, that comment is not really contradictory with being typed on the internet.

Yes, the internet was technically a military project in that it came out of (D)ARPA, but they seem to work a lot on interesting civilian projects that might have military spinoffs rather than the other way around.

" .. no one else is willing to spend the amount of money .. "

That's rich. I think any agency could do amazing things if they had the budget the size of the military budget. Their amazing things wouldn't be "blow shit up first, let people share cat pictures a distant second" though.

Priorities, man.

Says the man who doesn't work in defense.

95%+ of the work done is thrown away. I'm not talking about cutting edge R&D projects that happened to not work out, but literally work will be done and then never evaluated and throw into the trash. Agencies have so much money that they need to spend that they will have no idea what they want and will just throw half a million at you to go do whatever you want for a year. Then they will look at a powerpoint of what you did for maybe 20 mins, nod their head and scratch their chin and then pretend the whole thing never happened.

The Phase I to Phase III ratio has go to me like 100:1

I'd say goals with our nation's infrastructure align pretty well too. Interstate system, bridges, etc.

All that stuff you list is good.

But, unfortunately, what too many of today's software engineers are working on are apps that hardly anyone needs. "It's tinder for cats". Stuff like that.

If nobody really uses the apps eventually the money runs out. Let us know when the US government isn't spending hundreds of billions each year on mil-ind boondoggles.

Exactly - the work they're doing might be technically complex, but from the point of view of most of the rest of the economy, they may as well be chasing tumbleweeds.

But if we use our engineering talent to build the New Jerusalem where all human kind can live free of want and coercion how will we maintain the current social order?

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