The terrorist attacks in Paris underscore a very disturbing fact of life in our post 9/11 world: We can’t get enough security to keep us safe from Islamic State and other extremist groups.
Security personnel, weaponry, cameras and high-tech devices will continue to take a bigger bite out of the global economy. The good times that people enjoyed in the 1990s may never return like that again.
In addition to Paris, people can point to the downing of the Oct. 31 crash of a Russian charter plane in the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, killing all 224 aboard. Investigators have speculated that the crash was likely caused by a bomb.
The more that Western nations and Russia bomb Islamic State militants in Syria, Iraq and other Middle East locations, the more terrorist attacks pop up elsewhere.
The Economist in a Sept. 8, 2011, article noted that from 2002 to 2011 the cost of security in the U.S. went through the roof. Federal homeland security expenses were $360 billion and federal intelligence expenses were $110 billion. Add $110 billion for local and state expenditures and $110 billion for private sector costs.
Under opportunity costs, add $40 billion for terrorism risk-insurance premiums, $100 billion for passenger delays caused by airport security screenings, $32 billion for an increase in short-haul traffic fatalities for people dodging airport delays and $145 billion for dead-weight losses and losses in consumer welfare.
That totals to $1.107 trillion. That’s a tremendous amount of money in 2010 dollars.
But we’re now nearly five years and a lot more terrorist attacks past 2011.
That means the security cost in 2010 dollars is at least an additional $500 million. Ask most people, particularly after the second big terrorist attacks to hit France in less than a year, and they will quickly say that they’re willing to spend even more on security. It’s never enough.
It’s all is fed by the fear that people have felt since passenger planes in the U.S. claimed nearly 3,000 lives in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The wars and the bloodshed that have followed haven’t made us feel safer.
They have generated even more terrorist attacks in more places worldwide. The carnage seems unending.
Countries respond with more military might and more security at home.
The cost will keep escalating until the world’s resources are exhausted or humanity finally discovers a way to a lasting peace.