Many people buy in bulk. Why purchase toilet paper a four-pack at a time, goes their thinking, when I can make one trip and pick up a year's supply?
This stock-up mentality can make sense — up to a point. A year's supply of toilet paper? Check. But a hundred year's worth? What, are you nuts?
Which brings us to the Department of Homeland Security. This conglomeration of airport screeners, border patrol agents and other armed federal forces is a major purchaser of guns — and guns need bullets. So it's no surprise that DHS would make a bulk bullet buy. But it is somewhere way north of surprising that it purchased 1.6 billion bullets!
You might wonder: Is that a lot? Well, at the police agency's current use of 15 million rounds a year fired at its training centers and in the course of official duty, 1.6 billion is more than a hundred-year supply of ammo. Or think of it this way: At the peak of the Iraq War, our army was shooting 6 million rounds a month, so DHS is stockpiling enough for a 20-year hot war.
Now, let's wonder about this: Why? Homeland Security, as its name states, is a domestic force, so what war is it anticipating? Also, these 1.6 billion bullets are just not little poppers — Forbes magazine notes that they include hollow-point rounds that are even outlawed for use in war, as well as "a frightening amount [of bullets] specialized for snipers." Again: why?
DHS says blandly that it's just a matter of getting a better price by making a big buy. Another theory is they're doing it because they can — Congress will OK any purchase wrapped with a homeland security ribbon. Then there's the conspiracy theorists who say that We the People are the target of the buildup.
I don't buy that, but the question remains: Why? Shouldn't someone in Congress be inquiring?
Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go With the Flow, on sale now from Wiley Publishing. For more information, visit jimhightower.com.