Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Homeland Security

When local teenagers found a radio-telephone left by a public safety employee in the bathroom of a gasoline station, they tried it out, resulting in vehicles rushing to a phantom emergency. Rather than charging them with felonies, I wanted to reward them for pointing out a serious glitch in "homeland security." Recent reports have disclosed that our country's air traffic control system is outmoded and does not provide real-time data; if I remember correctly, it tracks planes twelve seconds after they've been.

Eight years after 9/11/01, homeland security remains elusive. I feel as if we've checked our brains into high school lockers. When I see the fancy new emergency vehicles purchased with federal funds, I think of the Mustangs teenage boys covet and crash. If the things last, they'll be outmoded in three years.

A particularly important failure sticks out. How can we expect to be "safe" if we depend on distant supplies for the basics of everyday life? It's been reported that the average food item on an American table has traveled 1500 miles. If you think that's normal, let me mention that the same average for Italian tables is less than 50 miles. Our number one priority should have been, and should be, developing local and regional resources, not fighting civil wars overseas (Virginia whispers, "could any war be 'civil?'"). We need plans that focus on satisfying basic needs with products available nearby, including food, water and energy. In the event of an emergency, the "battle" will be lost if many of us are thirsty, hungry and power-less.

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