Indeed, the economists who subscribe to these views tend to tout military spending as particularly good evidence in their favor. Many argue that it was the massive spending during World War II that really pulled us out of the Great Depression (a flawed theory but more credible than the New Deal itself, which mostly prolonged the Great Depression).
And yet, it seems that military spending is the only Keynesian pump-priming this president doesn't like.
Conversely, his argument that technological advances should deliver increased savings by providing more "bang for the buck" doesn't seem to enter his thinking anywhere else. In the private sector he finds improved efficiencies to be a burden -- all of those ATM machines taking away good bank teller jobs.
And where are the technological efficiencies making government more effective for less money? Surely the breakthroughs in productivity, information management and telecommunications would afford us a huge opportunity to cut away some of the obsolescence in the non-defense parts of our government?
But no. Obama is constantly yearning to hire more government workers. The private sector, he said not long ago, was doing fine. The place we needed more jobs was in the federal, state and local bureaucracies.
Indeed, in his new "plan" he promises -- again -- to hire 100,000 new teachers. He is constantly assuring us that our "crumbling" schools with leaky roofs are robbing children of their education. The honest truth: You can teach kids in a school with a leaky roof pretty easily. A submarine with a leaky roof? That's a problem.
The amazing thing is that we've been increasing federal government spending on education at a blistering pace for decades. Where is the return on the investment? Where are the improved capabilities and efficiencies from investments in technology?
The military, which thrives on precisely the civic virtue Obama insists is on full display in public education, has a lot to show for the investments of the past Obama would like to curtail. Where's a similar return in the non-defense sector? And has Obama ever bothered to ask that question?