The responses to hurricane Sandy was predictable and fascinating at the same time.
I mean both the reaction to the disaster by FEMA and the American People and the reaction to FEMA’s work by the media and political voices from all over the spectrum.
The New York Times had an article “A Big Storm Requires Big Government” praising FEMA and Chuck Norris had an article on townhall.com on the 20th of November dissing it but there were douzens more.
New York Times article set the tone. It was written to pummel Mitt Romney about his suggestion that maybe we can do without FEMA – as if that was still a question after FEMA’s abysmal performance around Hurricane Katrina.
The lies, the sleaze, the omissions, the propaganda in the NYT article would deserve a book on its own. While the political right commented on the subject as well, I found little principled opposition to the idea of FEMA. Defending Romney from the NYT attack culminated in denying that he ever wanted to get rid of it. Only some libertarians such us John Stossel ventured to say that we do not need FEMA at all because it is doing more harm than good, but questioning the existence of FEMA is no longer an acceptable subject in polite society.
It can be argued that FEMA did more harm than Katrina. Anybody can know what went on. Lew Rockwell had an excellent presentation about it that you can hear here or read here.
We are already living in a world where the most important services affecting our lives are provided by spineless, soulless and brainless bureaucracies. It is fair to question how far this can go.
I grew up in a communist country where everything from bread to shoes was provided to us by the state. One size fits all, so to speak.
As a teenager, I saw the career of a great stand-up comedian taking off in communist Hungary. He was a bit of a court clown walking the tight rope between what is acceptable and what is criminal to say. He was allowed to say many things as a joke that would have landed an ordinary citizen in jail. The incompetence of the planned economy was one of his popular subjects. He made fun of the problems, the bureaucrats, but not the system.
The newspaper called “People’s Freedom” (the Hungarian equivalent of Pravda [Truth]) wrote articles demanding justice for the people while they were searching for the cause. Why do the boots lose their sols within a week of purchase? Why can’t we bake bread? Why are there unbaked lumps in the middle of the loaf? Why are the shoes un-wearable and the bread inedible? Who sabotaged the production?
In a planned economy, every act must have a political cause. When something did not work, somebody had to be responsible. The only thing that was a taboo to question, was the system itself.
This is the direction the New York Times is leading us and even most of the conservative media is playing along. Since Reagan and the Bushes did NOT get rid of FEMA, polite republicans shouldn’t suggest it either.
Chuck Norris was expressing his sympathies for the people suffering in the FEMA concentration camps. His article closes with a positive note suggesting, in essence, that we should just forget about big government and its agencies and start relying on ourselves. Complement in a way the incompetent help of the government.
Finally, my points
This blog is not a place of ‘polite society’ and we do not live in communist dictatorship yet therefore I can make them.
The FEMA tent cities are in New Jersey, aren’t they? How could this simple fact escape the attention of so many Republican commentators? New Jersey ASKED FOR THIS! They voted for big government 58% to 41%. Don’t they deserve every bit of the FEMA incompetence? The help that they are NOT getting because FEMA does not allow non-unionized workers to help for free?
And if the suffering, pushed around victim of Camp Freedom happens to be a Republican, shouldn’t he just turn to his neighbours and ask directly what he did to them to deserve this? Chances are 6 to 4 that he will be talking to a Democrat who asked for it.
Shouldn’t we also get a little tribal here? To go there with the help and to ask the person in need “How did you vote?” Republican? Here is the help. Democrat? Go to FEMA, you voted for their help, not ours.
I FEEL SORRY FOR THE PEOPLE TOO, but shouldn’t there be a little room here for some righteous indignation?
Since the place already feels like being in a concentration camp, shouldn’t we expect all democrats in them to walk around with a red star on their chest declaring: “I voted for this!”
Shouldn’t that make them feel free and proud?
Of course I would not do any of this, but I hope you get my point.
When my puppy pees on the carpet, I rub his nose into it and slap his ass. Shouldn’t we extend at least that much educational courtesy to the New Jersey democrats?
If we do not teach them now, if we do not rub their noses into it, we may very well end up in the world I was so happy to escape from.
FEMA has been, is and always will be a disaster for all the reasons so clearly explained by Lew Rockwell.
The big question is not whether we can come together again, overcome the hurdles thrown in our way by the bureaucracies to prove yet again the superiority of civil society and the free market over big government agencies but whether anybody will ever learn from the experience.
(Am I the only one to whom the name of these places (“Camp Freedom”) sound an awful lot like the “Arbeit macht frei” slogan on the entrance gates of NAZI concentration camps? And don’t you think that the New York times should change its name to let’s say “New York Truth & Freedom”? It would be a beautiful, but most of all accurate combination of the ideas the paper represents. (give me a star if you like the idea))