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9/11 is STILL Impacting Our Lives

Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Sheila Jamison
 
It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been fourteen years since that fateful day … a day that changed our lives forever; a day we vow to never forget! 
 
Remember when: 
  • The US wasn’t engaged in war, at least a “declared” war.
  • We deported 50% fewer people than we do today.
  • We didn’t live in a surveillance state.
  • You could actually get to the Airport at a reasonable time for your flight. You could even keep your shoes on!
  • Our civil liberties were what made us different from police states like China & Russia.

Those days are gone … replaced by their opposites.
 
So just how much is all this costing us - the tax payer?
  • Homeland Security’s “discretionary” budget rose from $16 billion in 2002 to more than $43 billion in 2011. Just what did that get us? This year TSA reported on their most recent test given screeners to find their weak points. What was found was staggering! Banned items in 67 out of 70 tests got through. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said, “After spending over $540 million on baggage screening equipment and millions more on training, the failure rate today is higher than it was in 2007!”
  • 3.1 million young (and some not-so-young) Americans have been called upon to serve their country between 2001 and 2011. 2 million were sent to Afghanistan or Iraq; 6,000 of which sacrificed their lives, another 44,000 were wounded and more than 18% now are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression. Approximately 20% have traumatic brain injury.
  • In 2002, 22 agencies were merged to create Homeland Security & the new U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the latter using federal laws to deport criminals. Deportation doubled in the decade after 9/11. Total cost to you and me? ~$70 billion!
  • Airport security is now being conducted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) – services are provided by private companies. You undoubtedly noticed their dismal report card earlier. The cost? $7.6 billion fiscal year 2012 PLUS a $2.50 charge every time you buy an airline ticket! Also, weary travelers have left change & belongings behind at checkpoints totaling a measly $500,000. TSA keeps that money for their operations.
So what could we have spent our precious tax dollars on? Excellent question to put to our Presidential hopefuls. First, here are some of their ideas of where the cuts should come from:
  • Supreme Court
  • Department of Education
  • Environmental Protection
  • Entitlements like social security and Medicare, which they are discussing as if they were government handouts. Entitlements equal handouts? How much have you paid into these handouts?
So our Federal Budget is $3.8 trillion. If we calculate the cost of our federal programs per US resident (321.4 million) we get a rough idea of the cost/person tab. We can do that for each program as well. Here are the costs of some of the various programs in the Federal Budget in cost/U.S. resident:
 
Federal operating spending:
  • US Supreme Count: $0.28
  • Government printing & publishing: $0.38
  • Office of the Sergeant at Arms & Doorkeeper of the Senate: $0.40 (40 cents doesn’t sound like much but that’s about $130 million – I wonder if congress could do without this one???)
How about the criminal justice programs?
  • Juvenile justice & crime prevention: $0.76
  • State & local law enforcement: $3.72
  • Federal correctional officers’ salaries: $21.56 (if you feel that 40 cents added up, try this one!)
Now for those international financial programs:
  • Export-Import Bank: $1.89
  • International Monetary Fund (IMF): $0.65
  • Foreign Military Sales Program: $29.08 – This program allows our military to sell defense articles & services to foreign countries.
Under President Obama Homeland Security has increased:
  • Citizenship and Immigration Services: $11.96
  • Immigration and Customs Enforcement: $18.19
  • U.S. Customs & Border Protection: $39.29 (times 321 million … but I repeat myself)
Foreign Aid programs:
  • International food aid: $4.22
  • International disaster assistance: $10.54
  • Aid for Israel’s military: $11.90
Federal Energy programs:
  • Coal workers’ disability & black lung compensation: $1.34
  • Energy efficiency & renewable energy research: $3.49
  • EPA grants to states for pollution control and cleanup: $11.09
Education programs:
  • Assistance for public universities: $5.92
  • Education & training for the unemployed: $21.83
  • Student loans: $75.87
President Obama has decreased Infrastructure budgets:
  • Amtrak: $4.47
  • Federal Aviation Administration: $50.15
  • Highway funding: $130.51 (This one is partially funded by federal fuel taxes! Washington claims this program is approaching insolvency because this tax hasn’t been raised since 1993. However, ONLY 60% of this tax is being used for highway and bridge construction. The remaining 40% goes to programs earmarked by congress.) 
Defense budget:
  • Military procurement: $246.85
  • Income security for veterans: $252.85
  • Military personnel: $407.47
I was afraid to multiply these by 321 million or to total them. And can we trust the defense budget to be even close to reality! Last year the Air Force estimated the cost of their top secret Long-Range Strike Bomber at $33.1 billion. They just increased that amount to $58.4 billion. That’s 76% over budget in one year!
 
Loren Thompson, a defense analyst said,
“This sounds like a simple error. Whatever the Air Force may think it’s going to spend on the bomber program over the next 10 years, those numbers will change.”
Meanwhile, fasten your seat belts and prepare to justify your Social Security and Medicare benefits!
 
Healthcare programs;
  • Tax credits for insurance premiums: $90.39
  • National Institutes of Health: $94.46
  • Grants to states for Medicaid: $1,084.07 
I have an idea. Since we’re really starting to hear from the Presidential hopefuls, let’s listen to who can help us with the budget problem! 
 
It makes me sad to believe that 9/11 still is dictating behavior that I believe is not only costing our country dearly, but distracts us from real problems that should be able to be solved easily …like shooting sprees. To me they’re even scarier than foreign combatants! You never know where it will happen and when.
 
Did you know that as of August 26th there has been 247 mass shootings in the 238 days of 2015 – an average of more than one shooting a day! The recent “on-air” fatal shooting in Roanoke wasn’t even the first shooting of the day! So, can we be safer just by addressing the problem of mental illness or addressing bullies at school? It’s something to think about.
 
However, if we don’t find another way and stop letting 9/11 dictating our actions, not only are we’re going to end up like Greece – but the terrorist truly have defeated us where it hurts!
 
References:
Acting TSA Director Reassigned After Screeners Failed Tests To Detect Explosives, Weapons. Eric Bradner and Rene Marsh. CNN Politics. June 2, 2015.
TSA Fee Would Double Under New Proposal. Melissa Clyne. Newsmax. September 1, 2015.
Travelers Leave $500,000 Per Year at TSA Checkpoints. Josh Hicks. The Washington Post. November 19, 2013.
Defense Security Cooperation Agency. DSCA.mil. 
Transportation Secretary Discusses Concerns About National Infrastructure. Gwen Ifill. PBS.org. August 15, 2015
Air Force Botches Bomber’s 10-Year Costs in Reports to Congress. Anthony Capaccio. BloomberBusiness. August 17, 2015.
We are now averaging more than one mass shooting per day in 2015. Matthew Speiser. Business Insider. August 26, 2015.
 

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