Human Rights

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In pockets of the country, the effect is magnified greatly, as in picturesque St. Marys, Ohio, 90 miles north of here, where a 65-year-old red-brick Goodyear plant bustles around the clock, building the tracks for the Army's Bradley Fighting Vehicles, supplies of which have been dangerously depleted. Goodyear officials refused to open the plant for a visit or even to comment on operations and employment there. Workers also would speak about the factory only on condition of anonymity.

But over beers at the windowless Wayne Street Bar and Grill, just beyond the plant gate, a Goodyear manager confided that at around 650, employment is up, overtime is up and "it's humming pretty good, I'll tell you." After a terrible lull, traffic is picking up at the bar as well, said bartender and waitress Debra Temple.

'The economy is always helped by war. That's just a fact.'
- Gary Gayer, Salesman, St. Marys, Ohio
"The economy is always helped by war. That's just a fact," said Gary Gayer, an appliance salesman in St. Marys.

There are economic downsides. In inflation-adjusted terms, the war's cost will surpass the United States' $199 billion share of World War I sometime next year. Coming on top of three major tax cuts, that spending will drive the federal budget deficit to more than $400 billion this year. That borrowing will eventually have to be repaid in higher taxes or reduced government services and benefits.

Economists have long argued that war is an inefficient use of government revenue. A dollar spent on a highway not only employs workers but also creates a lasting, broadly shared benefit for the economy. A dollar spent on military equipment is soon lost to enemy attack or the rapid wear of war. If it bought a bomb or bullet, it simply explodes.

The families of thousands of National Guard members and reservists have been dealt severe financial blows by the extended deployments of breadwinners.