Why can't the US be more like Europe? Why can't we have decent economic growth and an extremely generous welfare state?
Here's one reason: we spend an enormous amount of money on the military. Wikipedia's "List of Countries by Military Expenditures Per Capita," US per-capita spending on the military of $2141 in 2009 was almost twice as much as Norway ($1,245) and close to three times as much as Denmark ($804), Finland ($702), and Sweden ($657).
But aren't we getting (and providing) a lot of peace and security in the process? I'm not so sure. In this LearnLiberty debate about war, co-blogger Bryan Caplan lays out his case for pacifism. He explains in previous EconLog posts here and here.
(The usual disclosure: I've been paid for appearing in LearnLiberty programs, but not for blogging about them. I'm sure there's payola in the blogosphere, but I'm not getting it.)