On Native Ground
WHAT REAL 'HOMELAND SECURITY' COULD BE
by Randolph T. Holhut
American Reporter Correspondent
DUMMERSTON, Vt. - "Homeland security," a phrase that came into vogue after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, has become a concept that seems to have more to do with suppressing internal dissent than in actually making the U.S. less vulnerable to terrorism.
Regardless of where you stand politically, it is clear that little is being done to really address the threat of terrorism in sensible and practical ways. What sort of things should our nation be doing rather than creating a domestic spy network or launching a new war against Iraq? Here are three ideas.
For starters, let's look at automobiles. Our friends in Europe and Japan are way ahead of the U.S. in designing energy-efficient vehicles. While General Motors is committed to building gargantuan SUVs like the $50,000 Hummer H2 (which gets under 10 MPG and is selling so fast that GM dealers can't keep them in stock) for its American customers, its European subsidiary recently unveiled the Hy-wire, a hydrogen-powered car.
American automakers are addicted to the low production costs and high profit margins that manufacturing pickup trucks and SUVs have given them. They have little interest in taking even minimal steps to make SUVs more fuel efficient - and that may end up being a huge mistake. Just as Detroit got blindsided by the 1970s energy crisis and allowed foreign automakers to gain a strong foothold in the U.S. market with better built, more fuel-efficient cars, another day of reckoning is coming for U.S. automakers.
Japanese carmakers Toyota and Honda are committed to making all their vehicles with gas-electric hybrid or hydrogen-fueled powerplants by the end of this decade. You can now buy a hybrid Honda Civic sedan that gets close to 60 MPG for only slightly more than a conventional model. Hybrid SUVs are only a couple of years away from production.
Instead of recognizing the potential of new technologies, American automakers have done everything they've can to prevent tougher fuel efficiency standards from being enacted. Considering this nation's dependency on foreign oil, one of the biggest threats to our national security may be the ever-growing fleet of gas-sucking trucks and SUVs.
Last fall's anthrax-by-mail attacks exposed the total lack of people in the public health system trained to deal with bioterror. But Eban describes how the biggest obstacle to preparedness is the combination of staffing shortages, overcrowded hospitals and inadequate funding. While the federal government is working to prepare for a chemical or biological attack, many urban hospitals currently don't have enough staff to handle an average night of emergency room visits.
Eban concludes that while it's encouraging that the government is devoting more resources to bioterror, the effort will go for naught without a substantial increase in funding for the rest of the nation's health care system - including universal health care for all citizens.
Maybe this will become the ultimate argument in favor for health care reform - our national security depends on it.