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Jewish World Review Dec. 12, 2001 / 27 Kislev, 5762

Walter Williams

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Consumer Reports

In the name of national security -- YOU'D be surprised by the newly discovered requirements for national security revealed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. We discovered that a thriving airline industry is necessary for national security. Congress acknowledged this by bailing out airline stockholders and creditors to the tune of more than $15 billion. After all, how can our country be defended if airlines became bankrupt and their airplanes vanish into thin air?

Steel is also vital to the national security -- so vital that foreign steel must be kept from our shores. A senator from a steel-producing state, arguing for tariffs on foreign steel, made this clear, saying: "Without steel, we cannot guarantee our national security. Without steel, we cannot build from our tragedy." He's right. Without steel, not only can't we rebuild the World Trade Center and Pentagon -- we can't build tanks, ships, bullets, bombs and airplanes to go after the terrorist. Congress must do everything in its power to keep foreign steel out so that U.S.-produced steel prices are driven up, thereby better enabling us to fight terrorism.

After the terrorist attack, we found out that food is necessary for national security. Farmers sent their lobbyists to Washington to tell congressmen that recent "terrorist attacks have bolstered the argument that food production is vital to the national interest." In response, Congress is rushing to enact H.R. 2646, which would add an extra $69 billion to already planned farm handouts. The earlier bill was titled the Agriculture Act of 2001. After the terrorist attack, it was renamed the Farm Security Act of 2001, taking into account the newly discovered fact that food is "vital to national interest." It passed 291 to 120.

Current beneficiaries of taxpayer handouts to "poor" farmers include: Ted Turner, whose five-year take was $176,000. The five-year take for Scottie Pippen was $131,000, David Rockefeller $352,000, Rep. Doug Ose $149,000, Rep. Marion Berry $750,000 and Hancock Mutual Life Insurance $211,000.

Since Congress is taking taxpayer earnings in the name of national security in the wake of terrorist attacks, I can recommend other areas of national security concerns. While watching our young men and women kiss their loved ones goodbye and board planes and ships off to harm's way, I asked myself, "What can be more important in our war against terrorism than boots?"

You say: "C'mon, Williams, that's ridiculous. What's your problem?" Look at it. You can have all the airplanes, steel tanks, and nourishing meals for our fighting men and women, but how in the world can they be expected to fight terrorism barefooted? If Congress acknowledges that steel and food are indispensable to national security, shouldn't it also acknowledge that boots are, as well? So, if Congress is truly sincere about vital national interests, they should enact the Boot Security Act of 2001, awarding billions of dollars to shoe manufacturers. I'm sure the president would sign it.

Economic science has become an important part of our war against terrorism. Finding and freezing terrorist assets, and detecting money-laundering is not a job for amateurs. It's going to take experts. The natural experts in this arena, and I'm not being self-serving, are economists. Too many economists are wasting their time in universities trying to stuff economic theory into alien and hostile minds. These economists should be in the front lines of our war on terrorism. How about Congress enacting an Economic Security Act of 2001 to hire economic consultants to help the government detect the economic activities of terrorist organizations?

There are Americans who'd disagree with the Boot Security Act of 2001 and the Economic Security Act of 2001, but every country has its share of disloyal citizens.

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© 2000, Creators Syndicate