Re: [OPE-L] The Permanent War Economy / death of Seymour Melman

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Sun Dec 19 2004 - 10:03:11 EST

Seymour Melman died on Thursday (see the -- not very extensive --
obituary from _The Washington Post_ below).  An article from 2003
that he wrote for _Counterpunch_ on the permanent war economy:

In solidarity, Jerry

 Seymour Melman Dies; Fought Spending on Wars

 By Patricia Sullivan

  Seymour Melman, 86, one of the first social critics to contend that
excessive military spending has "depleted" the U.S. economy, diverting
investment capital, scientific know-how and natural resources from
sorely needed domestic improvements, died of an apparent aneurysm Dec.
16 at his home in New York.

 Mr. Melman, a retired Columbia University professor of industrial
engineering and a consultant to companies and government agencies, for 40
years urged the United States to convert its military-based economy to
focus its formidable economic energy on improving roads, schools,
railroads and housing.

 In the early 1990s, at the end of the Cold War when a windfall "peace
dividend" was expected, it seemed that Mr. Melman would finally have his

 "There are times when it gives me no joy to be right," he told The
Washington Post. "Now the results are visible. . . . It's a myth that
military spending brings prosperity to all."

 He is considered the grandfather of the economic conversion movement, and
the guru to the dozens of leftist activists who embraced the idea as a
way to argue that disarmament can also make good economic sense.

 The author or editor of more than a dozen books, he opposed the war in
Iraq -- he had been a speaker at a Vietnam War protest on Wall Street in
1970 -- and was co-chairman of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy.
He was chairman of the National Commission for Economic Conversion and

 Born in the Bronx, N.Y., he received a bachelor's degree from the College
of the City of New York and a doctorate in economics from Columbia
University. His marriage to JoAnne Medalie ended in divorce. He is
survived by a brother.

 In the 1970s, he was spokesman for a group of Columbia faculty members
who opposed the appointment of former secretary of state Henry A.
Kissinger to a faculty position.

 Mr. Melman said in the 1990 Post interview that he remembered when he was
in Calcutta years before and noticed how the educated middle class could
ignore the horrible conditions of the poor.

 "I don't want it to be that way here," he said. "I live on Broadway near
Columbia University, and there are more beggars on Broadway now than
during the Great Depression."

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