Sunday, April 28, 2013

Homeland Security Spending Set to Double Roosevelt's 'New Deal'

Here is another example of the great American hypocrisy.

Right-wing Conservatives will often speak with great disdain toward the "socialist" New Deal policies of the FDR administration, while pretending to be the champions of smaller government and spending cuts. In reality though, the political right are every much as guilty, if not more so, of expanding government and government spending.

Left-wing spending usually consists of programs targeted to benefit society in general, to benefit the people. The "three R's" of the New Deal were relief, reform, and recovery. Today we would see that as relief, or welfare assistance, for the the poor and the unemployed who are paying the most difficult price for the mismanagement of our economy. Reform would mean government intrusion into the market place, with regulations meant to protect the public from scheming privateers and greedy corporations, ostensibly in order to make sure that the economy won't falter again in the future. Recovery could mean a massive public works program, that might put huge numbers of Americans back to work, while at the same time restoring and upgrading our crumbling, outdated infrastructure.

The caveat to left-wing ideology is that it creates a reliance on government. Too much reliance on government then translates to too much government control over our lives, and the potential for infringements against liberty. A person who relies on the government for a job, or for the most basic necessities is less likely to challenge the government when it comes to bad policies, assaults on liberty, or even outright atrocities. So left-wing politics could be seen as the passive route to totalitarianism, or total government control of our lives.

On the other hand, the political right have taken a much more direct route, particularly in the post 9/11 era.  There is far less subtlety in their approach to controlling the population. Even in the years before 9/11 we saw a huge expansion of our prison system, and of course the police forces to fill those prisons. Today, America keeps more people in prison than Communist China, and they have nearly five-times the population. Americans make up 5% of the world population, but a full 25% of the people who are in prison on this planet, are in an American prison. Since 9/11, we have seen an aggressive curtailment of Constitutional liberty and the outright militarization of the police. And of course, we have seen the creation of a new armed force, the paramilitary Department of Homeland Security.

Generally speaking it is the political right who support a "get tough on crime" approach, and thereby essentially write the police a blank check to do as they please. It was also the political right who established the agencies and the laws that would become an unprecedented move to "secure" our nation. It was President George HW Bush that signed the Constitution-shredding Patriot Act and who established the Department of Homeland Security.  

So while FDR's New Deal was meant to put people to work building needed roads, bridges and dams, the right-wing utopia has turned out to be a total police-state where the government spies on it's own citizens without so much as a warrant and rolls through the streets as an occupying army. Rather than investing in economic recovery, the taxpayers are now funding their own imprisonment, sometimes literally in their own homes. This was never clearer than what we have just seen take place in Boston, where in the guise of public safety, quasi-police forces put entire neighborhoods on lockdown before sending heavily armed government agents on a door-to-door warrantless home-invasion rampage ripping families out of their houses with no place to go but the streets. This is not smaller government at all, this is how to turn a nation into a prison. This is a darker, more sinister expanded government than the New Deal could have ever turned out to be, and will soon cost the taxpayers twice as much in adjusted dollars. 

"Homeland Security"

The trillion dollar concept that no one can define

Imagine a labyrinthine government department so bloated that few have any clear idea of just what its countless pieces do.  Imagine that tens of billions of tax dollars are disappearing into it annually, black hole-style, since it can’t pass a congressionally mandated audit.

Now, imagine that there are two such departments, both gigantic, and you’re beginning to grasp the new, twenty-first century American security paradigm.

For decades, the Department of Defense has met this definition to a T.  Since 2003, however, it hasn’t been alone.  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.

Read more at: TomDispatch

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