The federal government announced $2.1 billion in federal anti-terrorism grants last week, down by nearly $800 from 2010. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Times asks whether the $75 billion spending spree over the past 10 years has made us any safer. The money has been spent for such things as sophisticated radio networks, upgraded emergency medical response equipment, installation of surveillance cameras and bombproof walls, and the outfitting of airport screeners to detect an ever-evolving list of mobile explosives. Homeland Security spending has been a pump-primer for local governments starved by the recession, and the funding has improved emergency response networks across the country.
“The number of people worldwide who are killed by Muslim-type terrorists, Al Qaeda wannabes, is maybe a few hundred outside of war zones. It’s basically the same number of people who die drowning in the bathtub each year,” said John Mueller, an Ohio State University professor who has written extensively about the balance between threat and expenditures in fighting terrorism. “So if your chance of being killed by a terrorist in the United States is 1 in 3.5 million, the question is, how much do you want to spend to get that down to 1 in 4.5 million?”