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Opening Arguments

Feel safer? Well, do you?

The latest dispatch from libertarian correspondent Mike Sylvester:

It is hard to believe that four years have passed since the Twin Towers were destroyed by terrorists.

The federal government has spent countless billions of dollars on various programs to protect this country. Do you feel safer? I do not feel safer, not one bit.

The federal government has spent billions on aviation security.  I think that we needed to make some changes to airline security. That being said, the GAO has released a report stating that our aviation system is NOT safer today than it was four years ago. Imagine that; we spend billions, and all that happens is that we create a large, ineffective government bureaucracy.

We have spent countless billions on a brand-new Homeland Security Department.  According to the Pew Foundation, more illegal immigrants have entered this country each and every year since 9/11/2001.  Homeland Security has done nothing to protect the borders of this country. The federal government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to prepare for a terrorist attack.  I feel that they are wasting my money, and I do not feel safer today then I did four years ago.

How do you feel?


John Galt
Tue, 09/13/2005 - 8:08am

I don't think the effort was wasted. You might consider that all those billions in new programs and technologies produced an explosion of R&D. There are many new tools on the bench.

Now that we have these new capabilities, time and events will teach us how to apply the new machinery to best effect. Some of this stuff will prove more useful than others, and some elements will need more precise aiming, more surgical application -- but we now have security resources that simply didn't exist before. Whether they protect us effectively or not is now up to us.

We can't know how to perfectly apply this huge new security machine merely through academics, strategic planning, simulations or exercises, though we all wish we could.

Hurricane Katrina has demonstrated that hard reality will teach us how to utilize massive new capabilities. That's both the bad news and the good news.

Tue, 09/13/2005 - 11:48am

On our last airline trip in July my husband inadvertently left a small pair of sissors in his shaving kit in carry on luggage--twice. Did it go through, oh yeah--twice. So much for airport security. As I said before, the terrorists are one step ahead of us every time. We need to look at possible future targets as much as beefing up ones that have already been hit. Terrorists have shown a great imagination in finding new targets that we average citizens wouldn't think of. We also need to keep secuity tight even after that feeling of invulnerability has returned. How long did it take the gov't to decide it was too expensive to keep protecting the subways?

Wed, 09/14/2005 - 6:40pm

I'm not one to get too wrapped up in feelings. I haven't experienced terrorism since 9/11. Whether this had anything to do with government spending I don't know. I also don't know if increased spending in the years before 9/11 would have made a difference, but I doubt it. Terrorists will find the weak spots in any society. I refuse to let terrorists win by refusing to be afraid. I live in a relatively free society and am willing to accept the relatively low risk of terrorism.

As Benjamin Franklin said, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety not liberty."

Don't forget that we have gone to war in order to depose totalitarian governments, we cannot give freedom to Afghanistan or Iraq while we turn the United States into a police camp in the name of someone's desire to "feel" secure.