National defense, for instance, benefits the special interests that President Eisenhower identified as the military-industrial complex, and governments therefore tend to provide too much of it.  Whether the U.S. government specifically does so is controversial, but we can know with absolute certainty that some governments must be overproviding what is called national defense; otherwise the service would not be needed in the first place.  The overprovision is often a significant net loss of efficiency not only in the country “defended” but in other countries its government threatens.

That’s Jeff Hummel in a recent issue of the Journal of Private Enterprise.  My favorite example of what Jeff’s talking about is the Red Army.  When the Soviet Union had one of the mightiest militaries in the world, its people were in constant danger of nuclear annihilation.  The collapse of the Soviet state and its military took this terror off the table.