Tuesday, September 05, 2006

We Need a "Son of Sam" Law for Wars

Alternet has an excellent article tracking The Ten Most Brazen War Profiteers. This got me to thinking. Isn't it time we removed the profit motive from war?

Son of Sam laws, named after the infamous New York serial killer of the late 1970s, are designed to prevent criminals from profiting from any work of art or literature arising from their action -- and to allow the victims of their crimes to claim the profits. Son of Sam laws have run into constitutional trouble arising from their ostensible restrictions on free speech, but I see no such problem with a law prohibiting companies or individuals from profiting from war.

In fact, such a law would have the effect of preventing wars, as the military industrial complex would have a strong disincentive to ever use the product of its work. The Lockheeds and General Dynamics, the Halliburtons and Bechtels of the world would eventually have to move more thoroughly into non war-related fields. Imagine a world in which Bechtel turns down a multi-billion-dollar contract because they can't make any money on it!

A German proverb states:

A great war leaves the country with three armies - an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.

Let's help prevent the first two by eliminating the third.

No comments: