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Why We Should Fear Bathtubs More Than Terrorists

November 21, 2011

The federal government has spent over $80 billion on aviation security in the past 10 years. Yet “your chance of dying in a bathtub is about one in a million, and from terrorism is about one in 3.5 million,” says Ohio State political scientist John Mueller. Mueller and his co-author Mark G. Stewart argue in their new book, “Terror, Security, and Money:

Balancing the Risks, Benefits, and Costs of Homeland Security,” that cost-benefit analysis needs to be applied to security expenditures. The authors calculate for current spending levels to be cost-effective, the U.S. government would “have to prevent four Time Square-type attacks every single day.” So why are we spending so much for so little added safety? Mueller and Stewart sat down with’s Nick Gillespie to discuss the overestimating of risk from terrorism and zero-cost solutions to prevent another 9/11 attack. Mueller is Woody Hayes chair of national security studies at the Mershon Center for International Security Studies at Ohio State; he’s also a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Mark G. Stewart is director of the Center for Infrastructure Performance and Reliability at the University of Newcastle in Australia.

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