"What's good for Milo Minderbinder, is good for the country."
―Milo Minderbinder[src]

1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder is the mess officer in the 256th squadron of the Army Air Forces and a war profiteer during World War II. He is the founder and owner of M&M Enterprises and spends the duration of the war traveling around the Mediterranean Sea, trying to buy and sell goods at a profit, primarily through black market channels.



Representing an extreme version of capitalist free enterprise that has spiraled out of control, Milo seems simultaneously brilliant and insane. What starts out as a business in black-market eggs turns into a worldwide enterprise in which, he claims, “everyone has a share.” Like Yossarian, he bends the rules toward his own benefit; his quest for profit seems logical compared to the way Colonel Cathcart sends his men to their deaths just so he can get a promotion. All the men seem to like Milo, and they are perfectly willing to fly him to places like Malta and Egypt so that he can buy and sell his goods.



Minderbinder tends to trust Yossarian more than he trusts anyone else because Yossarian — an unselfish man of principle — is so unlike himself. After learning that Yossarian can have all the dried fruit he wants, which he then gives to friends in the squadron, Minderbinder decides that he can be trusted because "anyone who would not steal from the country he loved would not steal from anyone." However, he continually ignores Yossarian's pleas for help because of his preoccupation with running M&M Enterprises. He ultimately betrays Yossarian by striking a deal with Colonel Cathcart: Yossarian's squadron must fly additional missions, and Minderbinder gets the credit. When Nately's Whore's Kid Sister, a young girl for whom Yossarian comes to care deeply, goes missing, Minderbinder agrees to help him find her, but abandons the attempt in order to smuggle illegal tobacco.


  • Minderbender is portrayed by Jon Voight in Mike Nichols' 1970 film adaptation of the novel, and by Daniel David Stewart in the 2019 TV miniseries directed by George Clooney.
    • The Minderbinder character of the miniseries comes across as more sympathetic and less tyrannical than the earlier representation in the 1970 film or the original in the 1961 book, at least in his personal interactions with Yossarian. His ultra-capitalist business undertakings are taken even further, with M&M presented as ″an unstoppable enterprise″.
  • Heller created Minderbinder's famous saying "What's good for Milo Minderbinder, is good for the country" (insert Syndicate or M&M Enterprises for Milo Minderbinder) as a parody of Charles E. Wilson, who said "What is good for our country was good for General Motors" during a hearing of a Senate subcommittee in 1952. Wilson was the head of General Motors in 1952, but became Secretary of Defense in January 1953, thus being an early example of the military-industrial complex, which the Minderbinder character well represents.[1]

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. Sorkin, Adam J., ed. (1993). "Playboy Interview: Joseph Heller (Playboy, June 1975)". Conversations with Joseph Heller. Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi. p. 150. ISBN 0-87805-635-1.
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