Turning Swords into Plowshares
by James L. Morrison

[Note: This is a re-formatted manuscript that was originally published in On the Horizon, 1992, 1(1), 3. It is posted here with permission from Jossey Bass Publishers.]

"Defense conversion" once meant turning missile plants into factories, but this year it has taken on a much broader meaning that encompasses an overall plan for restructuring the economy and the nation's defense. Proposals range from broad spending packages targeted at creating new jobs and assisting hard-hit communities and workers, to trimming taxes and opposing calls for deeper Pentagon cuts. According to Senator Phil Gramm, what we're experiencing is the beginning of a new debate that will continue through the next decade: What do we do with all the money we used to spend on defense? The House's fiscal 1993 budget resolution, approved March 5, includes spending up to $6.6 billion for conversion projects such as community development, worker retraining and research aid, and more spending on housing and transportation. [Fessler, P. (1992). Hill struggles to assist victims of post-cold war budget cuts. CQ, 50(10), 542-545.]


The debate over utilizing the peace dividend exists because it will not allow us to attend to everything (reduce taxes, reduce deficit, rebuild the nation's infra-structure, attend to social and educational needs, repair the environment, and jump-start the economy) without pain to one constituency or another, including our own. However, higher education has an opportunity to generate integrative/collaborative solutions with governmental agencies and corporations, and therefore provide a service to society and obtain additional support.

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