(everyone alltogether now) WTF?
AUGUSTA, GA. â€” Fear is a growth market. And youâ€™re the buyer. Americans, seized by paranoia, will throw money at anything that promises to protect us from harm.
Thatâ€™s why nobody blinked last week when the Augusta Commission approved a plan to spend $3.2 million over six years to defend the cityâ€™s fire hydrants from terrorist attack.
Two new employees will be hired exclusively to retrofit the hydrants with something called the Davidson Anti-Terrorism Valve, designed to keep foreign substances â€” anthrax, bubonic plague, cyanide, tennis balls â€” from entering the water supply.
Thereâ€™s no evidence of such a threat, mind you, but Utilities Director Max Hicks decided the Davidson ATV was a good buy. â€œThey are necessary to protect the system,â€ he says.
The â€œstealthâ€ valve was invented in the 1970s by a Sunnyside, Ga., contractor, Tom Davidson, who wanted to keep juvenile delinquents from throwing rocks and bottles into the hydrants. No one wanted it then. He sat on the idea for years, not even bothering to file for a patent.
After 9/11, Davidson had an epiphany: If teenage punks could infiltrate the water supply, a terrorist could poison a city through its fire hydrants.