Safe And Unsound
Thanks to the latest Bu$hCo Chicken Little-style "The Sky is Falling and Al Qaeda did it!" alert, the idea of security is weighing heavy on the nation's mind of late, and it has brought to the surface something I've been mulling over for a while now.
People rightly want to be secure and safe on our streets and in their own homes, and are willing to pay a price for that peace of mind. They will buy expensive homes in gated communities, put up steel-frame doors with stout locks, install motion-detection, infrared sensors, alarms and lights; bar their windows, buy Dobermans and Alsatians for protection, and hire a security patrol service to keep watch.
This costs a lot of money. But it is a method that takes cure over prevention, and is the wrong approach to take.
The gated Top 1% community's guards will 'keep out the riff-raff', which will help to keep the property values up and the crime rate down. The steel-frame door and stout locks are a plus, but there's no real financial benefit to speak of on that investment. Neither is there much fiscal benefit for the sensors, alarms, and lights, although they might prove to be positive selling points when it's time to sell the house. The vicious dog can be neutralized easily enough, and in fact is often stolen itself, so no real benefit there. This leaves the security service, which is pure cost with no possible economic return, just a nebulous sense of security because 'someone is watching'.
Meanwhile, out in the Land of the Ninety-Nine, the streets are crumbling, the bridges are falling down, the sewer pipes are collapsing, there are cracks in the dam, the water system is corroded, the power dips constantly, the railroad keeps derailing, and there is a continual aroma of natural gas wafting about on the soot-particulated, ozone-laden breeze.
Just suppose, for a moment, that all that money spent on security were instead collected in taxes intended to pay for all of this decayed infrastructure. Just how many jobs would be created? And how much would the need for all of this 'security' be reduced?
I'd be willing to suggest that they would at least balance.
As was demonstrated in the last couple of years of the Clinton era, the major crime rate went down significantly. This had to be due to the fact that more people than ever had jobs in America. Those who have jobs tend to buy things instead of stealing them, and buying things puts the economy on an upward track.
Prosperity for Everyone!
But as history repeatedly demonstrates, when things start getting good for the working class, that's when recessions begin, and the entire gain so difficultly and diligently earned gets erased in a puff, and leaves those who were just starting to have an investment in their community in the lurch. This would certainly create disillusionment and resentment in those who struggled the hardest to gain the least, only to lose it to the whims of Wall Street. Thus, there is nothing like economic deprivation to create radicals and criminals (which may be why the wrong-wing likes to connect the two groups, even though they aren't necessarily related except in the economic causation of their creation).
Deprivation for Everyone - Except the Top 1%!
Let's just say that there might be a better way of dealing with this problem than to build more expensive prisons and to hire more tough-guy security guards, to have to purchase and maintain expensive police cruisers, and to screw with the Constitution - which is the last protection most of us in the Land of the Ninety-Nine have left.
The wrong-wing likes to talk about how America is a land of opportunity and anyone can make it if they work hard enough, but then they make it almost impossible for many to even enter the race, much less run in it. They talk about the value of work, then send the best jobs to countries where poverty makes the people desperate enough to agree to wage-slavery because it IS an improvement in their quality of living. The wrong-wingers talk about investing in their communities while they send their money to the Comorros Islands to escape paying their taxes, some of which would go toward alleviating the unemployment picture in this nation.
Now maybe it's just me, but there's no demonstrated walk to this here talk. What I DO hear is a lot of 'I want all of the benefits with none of the costs! I want security, but I won't pay taxes to put police on the streets. I want clean water, but I voted against the bond initiative which would have paid for the installation of new mains. I complain loudly and often to my representatives about the potholes in the roads, but don't you dare add another penny to those already exorbitant gas taxes to pay for repaving!'
My favorite example is the prisons themselves. These people will gladly pay the equivalent of a years' tuition in an Ivy League college per inmate to keep inner-city kids in prison, rather than reluctantly and under protest to spend half of that amount teaching that same kid to lay asphalt in the street and then pay him to keep the potholes filled! (Yes, I know - some of them DO belong in there - they aren't the ones I'm talking about.)
Where's the return-on-investment in this???? It's a hell of a system!
These people like to pride themselves on their business sense, and they like the fact that George Wastrel Bu$h is a 'CEO' pResident who runs the country like a corporation. But why are they so willing to allow US of A Inc. to be such a loser? There are no real economic advantages to this low-tax situation if they have to spend thousands of dollars a year on their own personal security through purchasing the items and services I listed above.
The fact that those personal security monies are no longer available to re-gild the portholes on the wife's yacht this year proves that providing personal security for one's self is just as much a tax as monies collected by Internal Revenue!
Would it not be a better investment to make the nation a safer and more prosperous place for the entire population instead of hoarding all of the benefit and having to pay massive costs to protect it from those who need?
There has to be an explanation why the personal safety approach is the way things are done over the public safety approach, and I have an idea why this is.
Those who aren't walking the talk are into power, and creating the situation where the Top 1% has all the benefit and the Ninety-Niners have all the cost gives them the opportunity to wield power. The more they wield it, the more they like using it! But to use it, they have to have a justification, so they create a justification.
Their expensive lapdog legislators are prodded awake long enough to pass a new law making something illegal, and then the police-on-a-short-leash are turned loose to apprehend the new perpetrators, and ignorance of the new law is no excuse! As the courts fill up, and 'criminals' are convicted, the prisons become over-crowded, and thus more need to be built, which then has to be paid for by something. As taxes can't be raised, the jobs program funding and other social benefit funds are rerouted into prison construction, and more people who need gainful employment are cast aside to be the next sacrificial victims of the cyclical exercise of mindless Might-Makes-Us-Right-'Til-You-See-The-Light dominance.
Dollars and cents, folks!
A cost-benefit analysis will provide the only argument that will cut right through all the wrong-wing crap about law and order. That tired authoritarian, anti-human system - the darling of self-appointed superior beings everywhere - needs to be put on trial - and convicted. If one is truly into more bang for the buck, one must gain more benefit for less expense. And the choice for less expense is to put people to gainful work.
But I guess it's more fun for the Top 1% to abuse us as slaves than it is to respect us as honorable laborers. So the cycle of abuse and domination continues - until we slaves decide we've had enough.
Let them eat cake?