Securitys Costs Need Weighing, Too
Renting a car proceeded swimmingly until we were told that we would need to be fingerprinted.
We expected NYPD Blues Sipowicz to pop up from behind the counter and start busting heads.
In Washington, senators just spent $14 million decontaminating one building of anthrax traces that arguably posed no danger in such minisicule amounts.
Reading an invitation to a political gathering in the Annapolis state complex this week, we were instructed to bring a photo I.D. and be prepared to have our bags checked.
Whats next? Roadblocks to conduct random strip searches?
We read the other day where Anne Arundel County wants $40 million from the state for homeland security. In tallying up last years costs, we saw where a half-dozen county fire officials practically doubled their salaries thanks to overtime pay for security-related duties.
Statewide, Maryland is spending tens of millions of dollars to correct perceived security shortcomings in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Keep in mind that times are such that the state is planning to delay our tax cut and dip $800 million deep into reserves.
We recall a spending debate in another General Assembly in which it was noted that county money often comes from the state and state money arrives from the federal government.
A wise old conservative senator observed: Well, it all comes from the same jaspers meaning us.
Perhaps our expensive preparations will head off problems. Maybe would-be terrorists will read about our planning and check us off their hit list. (We can hear an Al-Quaeda member saying, Those infidels out in Maryland are just too doggone secure to monkey with.)
More likely, political leaders are wasting on consultants money that could be spent on more pressing problems. And corporations like that rental car company are using this climate to clamp down on people for reasons that have nothing to do with national security.
We need to keep in mind that security, unlike human emotions does not ebb and flow once it is put in place.
People who told us after September 11 that life will never be the same in America were correct. But its up to us both fiscally and socially to craft approaches to public safety that make sense.
We recall the words of Ben Franklin, who knew a little about the democracy he helped set in motion:
Those who are willing to trade civil liberties for temporary security, he said, deserve neither.