We are living in a world in which security is becoming more and more expensive. If we add up the costs of our military, TSA, Homeland Security, police, prison guards, NSA, FBI, CIA, and private corporate security firms throughout America, I am sure we are spending trillions of dollars on keeping ourselves safe. And strangely, I do not think people feel safer today than they did fifty years ago when the amount of money being spent on security was much less. Consider, too, that this much more being spent is not just in actual dollars but in percentage of our gross national productivity as well.
One of the aspects about security that is most troubling is that nothing is actually produced in economic terms. I value my time and it has always bothered me that billions of work hours are lost going through security lines at airports and elsewhere. Those hours are never returned and can never be converted to productive use of time. More damaging yet is that the herding of people, all of whom are assumed potential threats until proven otherwise, is often demeaning and creates a culture of submission in what we hope is still the home of the brave and the land of the free.
The overemphasis on security also creates a culture among those enforcing our laws and security procedures that creates a level of separation and bullying that is at a minimum unattractive and too often dangerous. Just recently after a high-speed chase a fifty-one-year -old unarmed man was shot twenty-one times by three members of the Los Angeles police force upon exiting his vehicle. No doubt these officers had to protect themselves, but a single bullet to the knee might have been sufficient. Why the twenty-one shots? It may be months or years before we know, and the lawyer for the dead man’s family is already suing for twenty million dollars in what seems very winnable wrongful death suit.
The other day when my car battery needed a jump, the young man who provided the cable boost told me he was studying to become a police officer. He was only twenty-one and was excited about the potential to earn a much better living as a police officer than as an emergency AAA tow truck driver. He seemed like a nice young man and he knew that he would have a more secure life as a police officer. I just hope that when he is trained to use his gun he realizes that his role is to provide a more secure environment for others and not just for himself.
Security. What does it really mean?