Wednesday, September 07, 2005

FEMA's Folly
This morning, Salon's Farhad Manjoo details how the Federal Emergency Management Agency failed not only in the runup to Katrina, but in the response in days following. The picture is astounding: You've got the whole damn country wanting to send help--as Bush frequently reminds us, that's the sort of things Americans do, take care of their own--but FEMA declined help, held back responses, stonewalled, or just plain ignored repeated offers of help. It's like nothing so much as a three-year-old asserting its independence who cries out, "I can do it myself!" Except FEMA can't, because the devolutionist gomers who provide what passes for philosophical thinking in the conservative movement have made it damn near impossible for FEMA to be useful anymore.

Reader KN takes it from here.
We need our federal government to take the lead in responding to national disasters. State government agencies such as MEMA (Mississippi Emergency Management Agency) deal with maybe only one disaster a decade and therefore cannot build the expertise of a federal disaster management agency, which is called upon more frequently. Most state governments also can't afford the level of expertise needed right now in New Orleans. Conservatives might say that states would be able to afford it if more tax dollars went to them than to the federal government. Perhaps, but all states bear responsibility for the burden, because all states are affected. For example, last year the bulk of US corn and soybean exports went through the port of New Orleans, and 250,000 tons of coffee are imported through New Orleans annually. We get 25% of our fuel supplies from the area. Look for prices to rise on all sorts of products all across the country. The sooner New Orleans is up and running (and I don't just mean the port), the better off all of us will be.

As the Salon article shows, the Bush administration's ideology of a small federal government has led them to all but dismantle FEMA, once a model federal agency. As a result, thousands of people have needlessly suffered and died. Folks, somebody ought to be impeached over this.

(Take notes, my dear social Darwinian friends: Can we now see how cooperation is a human evolutionary development?)

In related news, every person in the country should be asking themselves this question over breakfast this morning: If our government couldn't handle an impersonal hurricane, of which everyone had fair warning, is it ready for a major terrorist attack?
Short answer: No. And anybody who says it can doesn't know what they're talking about.

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