Shearing time again … again ($ 53.3 billion? Let’s look at Vol. VIII, Art. 4 once more.)

George Mascolo wrote in ‘DER SPIEGEL’ — “Fear can be a lucrative business”. That’s how we began yesterday’s commentary.

Erik Nelson’s story in the June 29th edition of “Inside Bay Area” made Mr. Mascolo’s point even more obvious and he began it with these words:

“A terror attack on the Port of Oakland or another of the nation’s 362 ports cannot be avoided with any certainty, a new study has concluded, so the nation’s port security focus should shift more toward recovering from such an attack quickly.

“We’re currently devoting a vast amount of our resources toward preventing an attack,” said Jon Haveman, program director at the Public Policy Institute of California. “To be a little fatalistic about it, unless we impose draconian measures, there’s still going to be a significant probability that terrorists will get their material through …

“To prepare for that possibility, “we need to be spending more money overall, and a larger share of that needs to be devoted to response and recovery,” Haveman said.

We also quoted more of the ‘DER SPIEGEL’ article in yesterday’s commentary:

• “The business of fear in the United States of America has been booming ever since September 11, 2001, and the price tag for the protective cordon of high-tech gadgetry intended to keep the US safe from more terrorist attacks is enormous …
• “‘The market is growing at an incredible rate,’ gushes the Security Industry Association at its ‘networking lunch’ with members of Congress and administration officials …
• “The American news magazine US News & World Report calls the booming business ‘Washington’s version of a Turkish bazaar’ …
“According to a government study, thus far only four of the Department of Homeland Security’s 33 homeland protection programs are considered effective, leading the new Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, to promise Congress that he’ll be taking a closer look at how the department spends its millions. But despite Chertoff’s promises, the booming industry’s prospects remain as rosy as ever. Indeed, the Secretary recently told a gathering of 400 industry executives that the government still depends on their help. ‘We need to make America a safer place,’ he said — to roaring applause.”

But now that we’re safe from the terrorists — because authorities see no point in inspecting 100% of incoming cargo containers — Americans are now feeling a lot less fearful. That doesn’t bode well for the ‘business of fear’, of course, so “the nation’s port security focus should shift more toward recovering from such an attack quickly”. Shift what? Shift the taxpayer’s money, that’s what.

“Fear can be a lucrative business”, alright. [Looks like shearing time again.]