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Homeland Security Spending Overtakes the New Deal

April 30, 2013

This TomDispatch post is a couple of months old… but as our legislators debate budget cuts it is timely. The post incorporates an article written by Mattea Kramer and Chris Hellman that includes these paragraphs:

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which celebrates its 10th birthday this March, has grown into a miniature Pentagon. It’s supposed to be the actual “defense” department — since the Pentagon is essentially a Department of Offense — and it’s rife with all the same issues and defects that critics of the military-industrial complex have decried for decades.  In other words, “homeland security” has become another obese boondoggle.

But here’s the strange thing: unlike the Pentagon, this monstrosity draws no attention whatsoever — even though, by our calculations, this country has spent a jaw-dropping $791 billion on “homeland security” since 9/11. To give you a sense of just how big that is, Washington spent an inflation-adjusted $500 billion on the entire New Deal.

Despite sucking up a sum of money that could have rebuilt crumbling infrastructure from coast to coast, this new agency and the very concept of “homeland security” have largely flown beneath the media radar — with disastrous results.

The article documents the history of the the Department of Homeland Security, noting that it was initially recommended in a white paper expressing concerns about American security written before 9/11. At the very end of the article Kramer and Heller write:

Meanwhile, the same report that warned in early 2001 of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil also recommended redoubling funding for education in science and technology.

In the current budget-cutting fever, the urge to protect boundless funding for national security programs by dismantling investment essential to this country’s greatness — including world-class education and infrastructure systems — is bound to be powerful.  So whenever you hear the phrase “homeland security,” watch out: your long-term safety may be at risk.

Do we have more funding for education? NO… the percentage of our GDP for education has declined since 9/11. Do we have broadband in every household and universal cell phone coverage? NO… you can get more reliable internet and cell phone coverage almost anywhere in the world.

We do have body scanners at airports and hordes of people inspecting our backpacks, suitcases, gel products, and shoes…. and we have cameras all over the place… and we have chips in our cell phones that track our locations (except in the places where cell coverage is checkered)… and we have Big Data warehouses in DC that monitor our internet posts— probably including this one… I wish the trillions spent on these “safety” initiatives made us feel safer… but based on what I read in the media, it’s a scary world out there!


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