Are you feeling particularly secure right now? You should be, because we’re spending 39.5 billion bucks a year to give you the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from knowing that the folks at the Department of Homeland Security are on the job. Except that, oops, the centerpiece of the Department is not making us safer.
According to a Senate investigation, the fusion centers, places where under-trained staff endanger the civil liberties and privacy of citizens, are not providing intelligence of import. The reports are slip-shod, and the news is neither new nor relevant to terrorism.
The Department claims there are 72 of these centers, which cost the Federal Government some 1.4 billion. It turns out there are only 68. What, they lost count? They lied purposely? The implications are staggering.
Additionally, top officials hid internal reports damaging to the agency. Perhaps they just wanted to survive. After all, orchestrating the war on terror is complicated. In fact, you might say that it was lost as soon as we began mobilizing. Reminds me of the war on drugs. How much money must we divert into fighting this invisible enemy? Can we buy security?
Seems to me we’re throwing tax dollars away, but hey, if we’re going to squander revenue, lets dispose of it elsewhere.
I say we throw that money into more tangible security efforts. For example, lets feed the 50 million people who experience food-insecurity in the United States. Many of these people have jobs, working at minimum wage. Some are homeless, and more than 17 million of them are children. The costs of this pernicious type of insecurity are immense. If children aren’t fed, the consequences include physical and emotional impairment. Imagine people going hungry while the rich just keep increasing their share of the available wealth.
And then there’s housing security. As of last year– and it’s worse now, because Federal funds have dried up– there were over a half million people without homes. Of these, nearly four in ten live in the street, or in cars, or other places not meant for human habitation.
How about employment security? As of August, there were 12.5 million people looking for jobs. That doesn’t include the ones who gave up. And then there are the eight million souls working involuntarily at part-time jobs. No, they aren’t being held in jobs against their wills— they’d love to get 40 hours a week, but their hours have been cut back to save money for the corporations they work for.
Contributing to all of this very real insecurity is the situation with public education. Middle class graduates are staggering under the weight of loans, and the cost of attending even public institutions is escalating enough that college will be out of reach for many. When I went to Penn State, it cost my parents five thousand dollars a year— now the cost of tuition plus room and board is close to twenty thousand, and wages haven’t risen fast enough to compensate.
Let’s make public school students secure too. We might start by throwing a little of that money into salaries for teachers, like they do in all of the countries in the world where children get better educations than ours. How about some true homeland security, the kind that will really help.