LAST RESORT

Posted in Rants on August 30th, 2011 by Ed

The reason I have so little respect for Small Government, drown-it-in-the-bathtub arguments, and often the people who spout them, is that when the proverbial excrement hits the fan, every person in this country howls for the gub'mint to save him like a baby that needs its bottle. As a nation we whine incessantly about it and vote for people who vow to destroy it, but there will be hell to pay if it isn't there immediately to fix things when the (hurricane/tornado/wildfire/drought/blizzard/plague of locusts) comes. Why can't Washington cut my taxes while also protecting me from every conceivable threat?

Earlier this year, Rick Perry demanded that the Obama administration declare Texas a disaster area due to wildfires, the primary advantage of which from the states' perspective is the ability to send FEMA a bill. When disaster declarations are made, Washington typically lets states handle the disaster but repay around 75% of the costs. So yes, that was Rick Perry demanding that the government (of the nation he wants to secede from) asking Congress cut him a check…and then throwing a bitch fit when it said No.

Chris Christie will be following Perry's example soon now that New Jersey has sustained what he estimates as "billions" of dollars in damage. I guess New Jersey's budget is a little short and the legions of Tea Party volunteers aren't going to be handling the cleanup and rebuilding. Do I blame states and their residents for wanting the government to provide disaster relief? No. I blame them for insisting that Government is Evil, sometimes actively working to dismantle it, until the tornado turns their house and community into a pile of twigs. A little consistency is too much to expect, apparently.

Not surprisingly, people who actually know a thing or two about emergency management are worried that "deficit fever" severely limits the government's ability to respond to major disasters. FEMA's hurricane response is forcing it to eliminate or delay tornado relief projects in Joplin, MO. The public at large, and even non-profit organizations, tend to forget about affected communities as soon as the cameras leave town and the story goes stale. The government and its army of bureaucrats have always been relied upon to stay until the job is done. Neither the resources nor the will power are forthcoming from any other source.

Since the media and the right are in love with the Federal budget as Household budget analogy, it's surprising (but not really) that the idea of saving for a rainy day is so far beyond them. Anyone who lives paycheck to paycheck knows that you can never get ahead financially because…well, shit keeps happening. The car breaks down, the kids get sick, and so on. When your budget and expenses are equal almost to the penny, every unexpected expense is a back breaker. Now that our Beltway betters have decided that the government will be run on a shoestring with an eye toward hollowing it out even further in the coming years, I suppose that recovering from hurricanes and flooding is another area in which it is time for Rugged Individualism to shine.