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Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2016

Are security funds being spent wisely?

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

By no means do I seek to diminish the concern for terrorist attacks, but I have to question the $42 million Missouri received Tuesday from the Homeland Security Grant program. Don't misunderstand - I assume Missouri could indeed be a target for terrorists and preparation is extremely important. But perhaps when we truly assess the risk for Midwestern states, much of that money could be better spent elsewhere.

In just two years, Homeland Security has disbursed $13.1 billion in funds to help prepare for any potential terrorist attack on America. But it seems to me that the major urban centers on the coasts are obviously a more likely target. In fact, a separate report Tuesday somehow indicated that terrorists had hoped to attack Chicago and Los Angeles following the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington. So if money is spent, the bulk of those funds should be spent on those areas.

Missouri has received $82 million in the past two years for equipment and training exercises for security concerns. Now granted, these funds most certainly provide some much-needed training. But given the current financial concerns of both the nation and Missouri, you begin to question our priorities.

Though I don't want to trigger a lengthy debate, Missouri does not seem to me as a top priority target for some Muslim extremist or someone bent on wreaking havoc on America. An effort to close the Mississippi River might be a juicy idea for terrorists but, were that the case, it's doubtful that our state would be the prime objective. The arch in St. Louis is certainly symbolic but once again, probably not a high target.

If these funds provide training for emergency personnel that can be put into place for a natural disaster, then that spending makes more sense. But to allocate funds strictly for terrorism preparation seems like a misguided overreaction in Missouri.

The way to address a financial crisis is to acknowledge that more spending creates more problems. Granted, it's a delicate balance. But just what would happen if Missouri rejected these federal funds and requested those dollars be spent in a more likely targeted area? I suspect the remainder of the states would wonder if we had lost our mind. But eventually, I suspect we would be proven correct.

And just so you won't forget - these funds didn't just magically appear out of thin air. These are your tax dollars being spent on something other than education or health needs. Keep that in mind the next time Washington "gives" us something.

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