Depressing Paragraph of the Day (Bin Laden’s Revenge Edition)

Randall Holcombe:

The damage al Qaeda’s attack caused when it destroyed the World Trade Center was about $10 billion (not including the substantial cost in terms of human life).  Meanwhile, the TSA’s annual budget is $6.3 billion, so we’re spending more than half the cost of the destruction of the World Trade Center every year to protect ourselves from another attack.  Clearly, the bulk of the cost of the September 11, 2001 attack has come in terms of the costs we have incurred since that day, not the cost of the actual destruction from the attack.  That is bin Laden’s revenge.

FILED UNDER: Terrorism, US Politics, , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. PD Shaw says:

    How much is a life worth?

    And how much did we pay for airport security prior to 9/11 (not including the substantial cost in terms of human life)?

  2. Herb says:

    Well….what was the TSA’s operating budget pre-911?

    I mean, I think the TSA is a joke and $6.3 billion is more than they deserve, but they don’t exist just to prevent another terrorist attack. They served a vital function before 9-11 and that function is no less vital now.

    Attributing the TSA’s cost solely to the 9-11 attacks and then calling it “Bin Laden’s Revenge” just seems too cute by half.

  3. An Interested Party says:

    There was no TSA before 9/11…

  4. Herb says:

    “There was no TSA before 9/11…”

    True. Before 9/11, other agencies were responsible for transportation security. It’s still a vital function that involves more than protecting us from terrorist attacks.

  5. Drew says:

    I may be parsing words, Steven, or was it his “intent?” This is the MO of terrorists. And I happen to believe it was the genesis of GWB’s lament, and then policy – ” “I’m tired of swatting at flies.” But I’ll be damned if I know what to do about it.

    Your colleague, and my beloved, but frequent, sparing partner, Alex Knapp, has posited that we should just endure the rare and episodic attack and ditch the prophylactic measures, as they are an encroachment on freedom. I disagree. That presupposes that our efforts have had no effect, and that abandoning them will result in no greater frequency of catastrophic terrorist events. Isreal does not take such a stance, and with obvious results.

    IMHO the death of bin Ladin is a symbolic thing, and perhaps will be a severe blow to morale of terrorists. But “revenge?” I don’t think so. And I think we have 20 years of vigilance ahead of us.

  6. SmallGovt says:

    The whole war on terror is just a lefty socialist pinko economic stimulus program hidden under the canard of “national security”