Publication: Business Report Issued: Date: 2004-05-11 Reporter: Vincent Malunga

Making Arms is Like Porn: There's Always a Buyer

 

Publication 

Business Report

Date 2004-05-11

Reporter

Vincent Malunga

Web Link

www.busrep.co.za

 

Every day one hears about people living in abject poverty and suffering from diseases that are curable. Every government gives the same excuse - lack of sufficient funds to deal with the problems.

While that may be true to a good extent, given scarce resources, there is plenty of waste going on in the world. It is the ultimate irony that one thing that no country would have to spend on, if all leaders acted rationally, ends up costing the world so much. There are countries that spend probably as much as 30 percent of gross domestic product on arms.

Whenever I have enough time on my hands, I would like to add up all the defence spending and find out in monetary value how much the world is wasting.

Alfred Nobel's gunpowder discovery has sure been "igNobel". I am sure his bones are worn out from turning in his grave. Of course, he cannot be blamed for his by-now humble contribution. Governments and arms manufacturers have taken the concept of arms to levels he could never have fathomed.

Everybody likes to talk about why we can't all just get along and have peace on earth. The reality is war has proven to be a very profitable business for arms producers; almost as profitable as pornography. This is not surprising since the hunger for sex and power are two of the most insatiable human compulsions.

Every war is an opportunity to showcase the next generation of fancy weaponry and military gadgets on offer, and governments lap them up like hot cakes.

It befuddles the mind of an economist that one of the biggest expenditure items on governments' income statements is for destruction! Wars keep defence goods producers' profits going and God forbid that the world finds a lasting peace!

Every time I see a new smart bomb go kaboom on TV, I have this image of some engineer at the dinner table telling his wife or her husband: "Honey that's the bomb I designed, isn't it a whopper of an explosion?"

Now for every smart bomb designed, there is a countermeasure that some other clever fellow must design for those seeking protection from the smart bomb. But there is always enough of the dang things exploding. In the aftermath, people are maimed and poisoned, land rendered unproductive, infrastructure destroyed, and all other national priorities relegated to the backseat. And for what gain? It is often done to satisfy some lunatic's megalomania. But, of course, I forgot the manufacturers' profits. We can't have them making losses now, can we?

The best argument they ever make is that every country needs its arms for security, and without security there is no economic freedom or prosperity. Where is Socrates when you need him most? Well duh! If we all just tried to mind our business, no one would need arms in the first place.

But I am not naive enough to believe that the status quo will change any time soon. Making arms is after all as brilliant an idea as making porn; no amount of legislation ever succeeds in eliminating either. The buyers are too hooked on their two respective fixes - power and sex. Is it a wonder that parts of human anatomy borrow their nomenclature from weapons of war?

We all know that the best way to defend is not to offend, so why do we spend so much on arms? Why not fend off animosities, mend our relations and lend a hand to peace?

With acknowledgements to Vincent Malunga and the Business Report.