New Yawk as Porkopolis—and Typical, All-Too-Typical

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The New York Observer, one of the most consistently good reads in weekly journalism, has a great piece detailing how federal funds for homeland security have been spent in the Empire State. Some readers will remember that it was New York City that was attacked on 9/11. Those with some historical consciousness will even remember that the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan was destroyed.

So why are the pols in Albany spending more than twice as much per capita on the capital of New York rather than the city that remains the prime target of terrorists?

New York City didn't even top the state's own per capita homeland-security funding distribution in 2004. That distinction went to Albany County, each of whose residents benefited from $23.90 in federal homeland-security protection in 2004. New York City received less than half that amount on a per capita basis, $11.34. (That calculation is based on state data on the distribution of the three largest categories of homeland-security grants: the Urban Areas Security Initiative, the State Homeland Security Grant Program and the Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention Program.)

Among the jobs done in Albany: Hardening the Pepsi Arena, home to a minor-league hockey team. Nor is all–or even much–of the spending related to terrorism and "homeland security" anyway. Which helps explain why "Officials in Yates and Madison counties said they had strengthened defenses against illicit drug labs."

And don't think New York is atypical. Veronique de Rugy of the American Enterprise Institute has catalogued the b.s. in the homeland security spending 'round the country:

Ms. de Rugy authored a report that considered the wisdom of passing federal first-responder funding to the states to spend as they see fit. It found "questionable uses of terrorism preparedness grants" across the country. Lake County in Tennessee bought a defibrillator to keep on hand at college basketball games. North Pole, Alaska (pop. 1,570), spent $557,400 on "homeland security" rescue and communications equipment. Grand Forks, N.D. (pop. 70,000), bought more biochemical suits than it has police officers.

The Observer story is here.

The AEI study is here

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  1. This isn’t a New York thing. Many mountain states get more DHS money per capita that New York.

    No doubt, some of this reflects the economy of scale available to a big city, but not all of it.

  2. joe-

    Well, isn’t it better that gov’t spending is disproportionately directed toward the rugged individualists in rural areas rather than the urban folks? If the money must be wasted on gov’t programs, isn’t better that it go to rugged individualists who don’t rely on government?

    Irony? What irony?

  3. Homeland Security Dept. or how to turn a tragedy, motivated by an interventionist government foreign policy into an excuse for another needless, wasteful government rip-off of the taxpayers. See the December print issue of Reason for news of the Homeland Security Dept. buying Off-road “four wheelers” for a rural N.C. sheriff’s office (it gets worse)… a $30,000 custom trailer for the Madisonville, Texas, mushroom festival…paying for a $30,000 catering bill for the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness.

    The federal government has turned local governments into kleptacracies that would make even Yasser Arafat, the PA, and their Israeli government enforcers and sanctioned suppliers envious! Of course in the US, the government does it thusly…Tax Tax Tax, Spend Spend Spend, Elect Elect Elect.

    The rest of the Dec. print issue of Reason is great too.

  4. Oh yeah, I forgot Borrow Borrow Borrow.

  5. At least the Albany Joint Terrorism Task force is putting that money to good use, prosecuting these Arab guys in the high-cash-flow convenience store/gas station business for making too many cash deposits under the auspices of violating laws against “structuring” (since they reported all of their income to the IRS and didn’t try to avoid taxes or anything or funnel their money to terrorists or anything). I wonder how many white-owned gas station finances the Joint Terrorism Task Force has investigated?

  6. The mere fact that our Fatherland Security dollars are being spent to investigate things unrelated to terrorism should in no way suggest that the government can’t be trusted with scary new powers in the name of the War on Terror. Just because they’ve created a giant bureaucracy with an Orwellian name, given it vast sums of money, and included in its job description things only tangentially related to terrorism, should in no way suggest that there’s any sort of boondoggle here.

    And even if they do start arresting US citizens and asserting the right to hold them without trial, that doesn’t mean you can’t trust the government.

    And remember folks, John Kerry would be much worse! Just keep repeating that: John Kerry would be much worse.

    And if you should ever find yourself being investigated by Fatherland Security for something unrelated to terrorism, and if they should ever abuse their powers, just remember that they would have been even more thuggish toward you if John Kerry were in charge.

    So, repeat once more: The Democrats would be much worse!

  7. Adam,

    You’re right, that’s outrageous. And apparently the feds are trying to justify seizing four cars (which presumably were used to bring the “structured” deposits to the bank) and six bank accounts on the basis of such a bizarre “crime”. Of course, if the feds succeed, these guys will have to prove they weren’t used in the commission of a crime. :

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