Episode 132: The House Always Wins  -  How Every Crisis Narrative Enriches the Security and Carceral State

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"It’s Time for a Domestic Terrorism Law," blares a Washington Monthly headline. "Tucson Police Helping Homeless with New Outreach Program," reports Tucson, Arizona’s ABC affiliate KGUN9. "Programs that monitor students' social media are seen as a means of heading off the next tragic shooting," says an article in GovTech. "How the Department of Defense could help win the war on climate change," explains Politico. In the United States, it seems no matter what crisis emerges - the planet warming due to fossil extraction, QAnon white nationalists storm Capitol, mass shooting, substance abuse crisis, a surge in homelessness - the response from our pundit, think tank, and political classes is always, almost without exception, to frame the response in terms that empower, embolden and - most importantly - fund preexisting carceral and militaristic responses. To fight the scourge of white nationalism under Trump and show we are serious about our anti-racism, the solution is apparently to give more money and surveillance powers to the FBI, an organization itself drenched in white supremacy and anti-Muslim violence. To show we are serious about climate change, we must give the reins of crisis management to the Pentagon. To show we care deeply about ending homelessness and poverty or addressing mental health crises and drug abuse, we must always ensure the police remain equipped, resourced and well-funded in order to monitor and target vulnerable populations. This "House Always Wins" ecosystem is no coincidence; it is fueled by a patchwork of perverse incentives: security state and weapons contractor-funded “bipartisan” think tanks and media outlets ready with turn-key "solutions" to every social problem that further pad the budgets of those already in power: the FBI, Pentagon, ICE, NSA, police forces, large corporations all with their own power-serving "security" and "extremist" experts ready to jump on every crises to explain why those already in power deserve even more of it. If the most basic environmental protections are to pass, they must relate to US military preparedness." If Mars is to be explored, it's to ensure the United States’s primacy over China and Russia. If there's an outcry for mental health services for unhoused people, police budgets surge to cover "training" and community outreach. On this episode, we explore how, under our regime of austerity, the house always wins; namely, how the security state is, by design, enriched at the expense of much needed programs and infrastructure like education, housing, and healthcare - with media all too eager to convince us the solution is to instead simply further bloat the budgets of police departments, border patrol, federal surveillance and law enforcement. Our guest is University of Illinois-Chicago professor Nicole Nguyen.

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