News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Homeland security or political pork?

Spend homeland security money where it is needed most, declares Barack Obama, the Illinois Democratic senator and presidential candidate.

Most politicians would not argue with that theory. But they’d come forward with multiple reasons why their own localities need the money most.

And, for the most part, their projects would be worthwhile. For example, Sunday’s Daily detailed the spending of $110,000 of homeland security money in Limestone County for a mobile emergency command post, a reverse 911 system that calls people during a disaster, emergency radios for schools, and consulting services to conduct a drill.

But at some point, if the nation is really going to protect itself from the likes of Osama bin Laden, homeland security money must be directed to the places that really need it most and whose security affects the whole country.

The government commission that investigated Sept. 11 said the federal government should put more money in the states that are most at risk of attack. Sen. Obama says he agrees. He wants to reduce the portion of some $900 million in grants that goes to every state, regardless of need.

By remarkable election-year serendipity, it turns out that the senator’s reallocation would benefit his home state, big states with huge numbers of convention delegates and electoral votes, and Iowa and New Hampshire.

New Hampshire, which holds the nation’s first presidential primary, gets extra money because it has an international border — a 58-mile boundary with Canada. Iowa, site of early presidential caucuses, would also get a bonus for reasons known only to the Department of Homeland Security.

When a senator stands up and says other states need money more than the ones where he plans to campaign, that will be a profile in courage.

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