Sunday, May 22, 2016

The High Price of Security Theater - Reason.com

From the article: 
The Price of Fear
Since 2002, people in the United States have been 100 times more likely to be gunned down by local, state, and federal law enforcement agents than to be killed by Muslim terrorists.
Ohio State's Mueller has been wielding the weapon of cost-benefit analyses for more than a decade in his own personal war on the war on terror. He points out that the feds spend roughly $150 billion annually on terrorism, compared to just $2 billion on the most frequent cause of death in the U.S., heart disease, and $300 million on strokes, the third most common killer. "We spend $500 million for every death from terrorism and only $2,000 for every death resulting from strokes," Mueller laments. "That means we spend 250,000 times more per death on terrorism." Though federal authorities have poured more than $4 trillion into fighting terrorism since 9/11, "these extraordinary expenditures have utterly failed to make people feel safer," he says. The percentage of Americans who expected another major attack was as high or higher in 2014 as it was in 2002, immediately following the worst terrorism incident in American history.
What does the U.S. have to show for its astonishing levels of anti-terror spending? "I firmly believe that those huge budget increases have not significantly contributed to our post-9/11 security," says Michael Sheehan, a former New York City deputy commissioner for counterterrorism. What these activities have been is an unmitigated victory for America's politicians, who take advantage of pervasive fear to engorge their own powers.
Americans are being asked to pay for the privilege of having their rights and liberties shredded by Washington. And with just a few months until the 2016 presidential election, there's little sign they've even noticed.
 
https://reason.com/archives/2016/05/22/the-4-trillion-war-on-terror/2

Pretty interesting article.  I pretty much agree that we have over-reacted out of fear and spent a lot of money on things that were of little use.  I don't agree with everything in this article.  I'm not sure the cost of the wars can be counted as theater but Reason authors take a much more dim view of our use of power in the world than I do.  I do think much of the TSA and DHS is pretty useless.  I do think we need to consider the costs of war when we spend the kind of money we do to fight a war where we don't get dirty.  Like some kind of video game.  It's all hi-tec and very expensive.  Johnny Brooks pointed out to me one time that we use $100k missiles to take out their $20k Toyota trucks.  Eventually, that won't work.  Bin Laden said something to the effect that "we will bleed you to death".  I don't think that's the exact quote, but the meaning is correct.  Seems like that is happening.