The U.S. as a Police State

It’s almost impossible to avoid how overboard Americans are when it comes to security.  Simply mention the invisible threat of “terrorism”, and you can get away with just about anything.  Even shampoo bottles and deodorants can be huge threats to your security.  And don’t even think of wearing your shoes through a metal detector.  Many people throughout the world recognize that the United States is becoming more of a police state, and it seems to be affecting tourism (although the weaker dollar might help).

MSN Money recently published an article that provides some interesting statistics.  The article, How to profit from a ‘police state’ begins with some interesting statistics:

In the midst of a six-year war on terrorism, widening income inequality and a growing fear of immigrants, America has become something of a police state, according to a new study, with as much as 25% of our entire labor force focused on protection rather than production.

The evidence is all around us, from the 47% increase in U.S. workers classified as security guards since 2002 to the sharp advance in the number of men and women under arms in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The increasing focus on protecting the existing economic pie rather than making more pie has important implications going forward, especially as we head into a year in which something like $1 trillion in adjustable-rate-mortgage adjustments will hit low-income and middle-class homeowners like a pie in the face.

You don’t need a Ph.D. in behavioral science to realize that a material number of household heads, faced with the loss of their homes and cars to foreclosure and repo men, will turn to theft, drugs and violence amid a sense of frustration with their deteriorating status, just as they have in past periods of economic dislocation.

The article focuses on making money off this trend (as I’m sure Bush and his cronies have already done).  The social implications are the most annoying to me, however.  I have seen friends and acquaintances express their fear of people that are slightly different from them.  They roll up their windows when driving, or avoid areas that they openly describe as “ghetto.”  The evening news does nothing to allay those fears and often fuels the fire.  I hope Americans can find some way to see the harmfulness of this obsession with fear.  Still, it’s not an easy thing to overcome.  And it hasn’t been all that long since the era of McCarthyism or Japanese Internment.

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