Columns, Opinion

PINION: Paying an arm and a leg

Americans are a spend-happy bunch. We’re raised from day one with commercials telling us to buy (roughly in order) new bibs, faster toy trucks, new duds, faster real trucks and new bibs. Ours is a consumer-driven economy (recent reports suggest that consumers are terrible drivers), powered by debt and owned almost entirely by the Chinese. So, when we’re told that money can buy us happiness (available in mountain breeze and fresh citrus), pocketbooks open up and credit cards come out.

This is probably why the idea of buying security is so gosh-darned appealing. Who doesn’t want to live in safety (other than all those Middle Easterners who just insist on bombing each other everyday)? And who wouldn’t want their children to be safe? Please, think of the children. Not too much ‘- you can get arrested for that. The answer to both of those questions is, of course, nobody (except damn-fool liberals and something called ‘Libertarians,’ who I think are the people who run liberaries).

So, dear readers, I’m sure you’re wondering now: ‘How can I buy my safety, Randy?’ It’s a good thing I’m here to tell you because most people aren’t named Randy and would think you’re weird for asking that.

The down payment is $83.4 billion in supplemental spending on the military and foreign aid that President Barack Obama asked for late last week. Yes, I know that he promised to stop supplemental spending (Former President George W. Bush’s method to avoid putting the cost of the war on terror into the U.S. budget), but this time it’s important; it’s for your own good. Also, if you could, please ignore the $130 billion that’s already been authorized for the war efforts this year ‘- the scuttlebutt around Washington is that somebody left that money in their pants pocket and put in the laundry, so that’s a wash. You’ll be glad to know that this money will go toward things like buying F-22s and Apaches, because nothing rebuilds the shattered economies of occupied countries like fighter jets and attack helicopters.

Now, you might have heard that we’ve already spent $830 billion on the war on terror, but understand that was back in the bad Bush days when we unjustly conquered nations and choked on pretzels. Now that change has come, all we need is another $83 billion to secure our safety. By my count, we’re spending $1 under Obama for every $10 we spent under Bush, assuming you pretend that the war on terror will end this year, and that sounds like a deal to me!

Now, I know that times are tough, so the thought of spending so much money to be sure that you won’t be attacked by religious extremists or Nazis at any moment can seem a bit daunting ‘- maybe even heinously unjustified and morally bankrupt ‘- so you’ll be glad to know the next cost isn’t monetary at all.

See, it can be tough to protect someone if they keep running off and doing what they like. It’s a heck of a lot easier if, say, you lock them in a very small room and pass them meals twice a day for the rest of their life (try to ignore the waste issue, it’s nasty). Then, all you’ve got to do is guard the door to the room ‘- safety problem solved!

So, instead of blowing even more cash on keeping the terrorists out, why not just work on finding the ones living here? Say, force telecommunications companies to install monitoring software that would let the National Security Agency listen to phone conversations, or have the CIA draw up computer software designed to track the senders and recipients of all the email on the Internet.

I’m talking, of course, about good old domestic surveillance (please don’t use the term ‘spying’ ‘- that’s so 007). With this wonderful tool, the government is able to monitor our every action and movement, ensuring that no one ever does anything wrong again and that we’re all safe forever. Now, sure, you might have heard that this practice is horribly illegal (or read that Benjamin Franklin claptrap about people who give up liberty for security deserving neither), but our president’s got you covered! A few months back, he voted to immunize the phone companies from lawsuits regarding their involvement with the NSA, and his Justice Department’s now declared that all lawsuits about government surveillance will be quashed before ever starting, for the good of the country. Sure, he promised to avoid working in secret and to honor the Constitution during the campaign, but now those namby-pamby liberals won’t be able to force you to live freely and dangerously ever again.

And if you don’t think it works, just check out Great Britain. They’ve got about four million cameras watching them ‘1984’ style, and I’ve got it from a completely fictitious source that there hasn’t been a single crime there in years!

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