Melman, Seymour 1917-2004

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MELMAN, Seymour 1917-2004


See index for CA sketch: Born December 30, 1917, in New York, NY; died of an aneurism December 16, 2004, in New York, NY. Engineer, economist, educator, activist, and author. Melman was a former Columbia University professor best known for his arguments that the U.S. military's financial requirements were damaging to America's domestic economy, standard of living, and infrastructure. Earning a B.S.S. in 1939 from City College of the City University of New York, he served in the U.S. Army's Coast Artillery as a first lieutenant during World War II. After the war, he returned to school to complete his Ph.D. at Columbia University in 1949. Melman's teaching career began and ended at Columbia. He joined the faculty there in 1948, becoming a professor of industrial engineering and retiring as professor emeritus in 1963. After retiring, he devoted himself to writing; he also served as chair of the National Commission for Economic Conversion and Disarmament and was co-chair of the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy. Throughout his adult life, Melman repeatedly argued that military spending is a disastrous waste of resources that is a detriment to the standard of living in America. Knowledgeable in both industrial engineering and economics, unlike many of his colleagues he concluded that it was not World War II that pulled the United States out of the Great Depression. Credited with making the term "overkill" popular in reference to the surfeit of nuclear weapons, he felt that military spending should be redirected toward alleviating poverty; he also proposed ways to transition military facilities into more productive private-sector businesses. Melman more recently also complained that the war in Iraq contributed to a depressed U.S. economy. Melman was the author of numerous books on these and other related topics, including The Peace Race (1961), Our Depleted Society (1965), The Permanent War Economy: American Capitalism in Decline (1974), and After Capitalism: from Managerialism to Workplace Democracy (2001).



Chicago Tribune, December 21, 2004, section 2, p. 11.

Los Angeles Times, December 20, 2004, p. B9.

New York Times, December 18, 2004, p. B15.

Washington Post, December 19, 2004, p. C8.

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Melman, Seymour 1917-2004

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