What are uses of the "Guns and Butter" analogy in speeches and movies that is a common theme in the analysis of trade offs and opportunity costs?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Naturally, I think that one of the most intense uses of the analogy can be seen in President Eisenhower's Farewell Address.  His introduction of the idea in "the military industrial complex" makes it very clear that there is an emerging "guns versus butter" issue presenting itself in American politics.  The emergence and dependence of the military in how the government spends its money is first seen in this context.  I think that another example of the analogy can be seen in the film, Fat Man and Little Boy.  The government production of the nuclear bomb has come at great costs to a scientist named Michael Merriman, dying from the effects of nuclear radiation.  The speech that Dr. Schoenfield gives to Robert Oppenheimer about "the world he created" as a result of the government funding of nuclear weapon technology reveals the analogy in full view.  The dependence of government money and funding in weapons for war ends up creating realities that spell doom and challenge for the American public, represented by "a world of Michael Merrimans, dying from the inside out." 


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