By Bill Maher
My usual friends on the right can't believe that I said that, during the hunt for the Tsarnaev brothers, Massachusetts looked like a "police state," just because it was a state full of police. But Fortune just did its own review of homeland security spending, and here are some of the highlights:
• Post-9/11 federal spending on homeland security exceeds $790 billion. That's larger than TARP and, adjusted for inflation, the New Deal.
• Last year, Massachusetts received $4 million in homeland security grants, ranking it 34th in homeland security grant spending per capita.
In short, homeland security is a money pit. And Boston looked like District 9 two weeks ago, when the black tanks and the body armor came out, but it's actually under-porked, compared to most places in America that got on the homeland security tit and sucked hard.
Two examples from Fortune of homeland security graft in Nowheresville:
• An Indiana county bought a $300,000 "Electronic Emergency Message Boards" system and used it to advertise the volunteer fire department's fish fry.
• Western Michigan counties bought thirteen $900 Sno-Cone machines.
Since 9/11, "homeland security" has been "open sesame" for federal money. It's cops (it's impossible to spend too much on cops) and the military (again, too much ain't enough). And the result is Grand Rapids gets a sno-cone machine and Watertown, Mass can't catch an unarmed bleeding teenager without looking like the Battle of the Bulge.
And, because it's Fortune, there's always a kernel of investment advice in any article, even one decrying government waste. See if you can pick it up from these clues:
• The video surveillance market was slated to grow from $11.5 billion in 2008 to $37.5 billion in 2015.
• There are 4,000 security cameras in Manhattan.
• Chicago has 10,000 linked public and private security cameras. London has a half-million.
The answer is that we're under-photographed compared to London. So invest in closed circuit camera companies. You have nothing to lose but your shame.