Department of pork barrel security

By Mark Follman
Published October 4, 2004 10:34PM (EDT)

If jihad should happen to explode onto the vast plains of Wyoming, folks in that sparse prairie state will be seven times better equipped to defend themselves than the denizens of New York City would be facing another attack. That is, if federal anti-terrorism spending under the Bush administration is any indication.

Veteran Washington Post reporter and presidential debate watcher Morton Mintz has put together a list of questions for the four campaign debates now underway, and while there is no indication that any of his questions will be used, he has one that would be particularly apropos for the sitting veep on Tuesday night.

"The administration's latest distribution of funds to localities for anti-terrorism preparations," writes Mintz, "gives New York State $5.47 per person, or $2.30 below the national average. Wyoming gets $38.31 per person, or $30.54 above the national average. In fact, New York gets less than any state other than California, which is also far below the national average.

"Why are seven times more security dollars, on a per capita basis, going to Wyoming, a remote prairie state with a population of a half-million that happens to be home to Vice President Cheney, than to New York, where thousands died in a terrorist attack on its -- and the nation's -- largest city, population 8 million?"

Of course, the per-capita breakdown belies the smaller overall sum allotted to Cheney's home state, but with the Bush government facing record deficits and slashing funding for the nation's front-line protectors, one would think that every dollar would count. At least the livestock can rest easy.

Mark Follman

Mark Follman is Salon's deputy news editor. Read his other articles here.

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