by Leslee Kulba
Wild West blogger
I managed to miss the online version of a story yesterday. John Boyle of the Asheville Citizen-Times wrote about one of my favorite peeves – Homeland Security wizmo-gizmos.
He told how a lot of the equipment purchased with DHS funds sits rusting. $397 million in DHS funds have been given to North Carolina public safety organizations since 2002. $1.6 million went to Buncombe County; $2.5, to Henderson.
“We’ve got so much of this stuff we’re in the midst of letting a contract to build another building that it will go in,” said Jerry VeHaun, Buncombe County’s director of emergency management.
As VeHaun described the excitement of scrambling for pork, one could almost hear tones of regret in the printed word. Boyle makes fun of a $317,000 mobile morgue with twenty-five stainless steel tables priced at $2200 apiece. The morgue has never been used, though it was billed more as an ambulance when its purchase made people think of Nazi trains. The county also has to garage a Companion Animal Mobile Equipment Trailer it has never used. It has fifty cages for rescuing pets in the event of an emergency. (Article 7, Section 3, I think.)
VeHaun’s department had to buy three trucks to pull all the equipment, and the new building to hold it all will mirror the current warehouse at about 8,600-square-feet. That building cost $400,000.
Asheville and Buncombe County are just a microcosm of what is going on nationwide.
The Asheville squad has a portable X-ray system that cost about $54,000, a $180,000 robot that can be used to diagnose and handle suspicious items and three protective bomb suits that cost $14,000 each — all funded by Homeland Security.
The intelligentsia argue the equipment created jobs even if it only served to tell terrorists what routes of entry to avoid. And we all know about the endless proliferation of economic multipliers – If you feel poor, pass dollars around and – Presto!
The juvenile explanation is government thought the ignorant masses would crumble at the word “secyouwrity,” so they used it to grow a department, appoint leadership, staff positions, and give things to states in order to cultivate codependent relationships in which the federal government could always have the upper hand.