Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Eliminate FEMA 

Senator Biden certainly didn't disappoint me with his opening remarks in the John Robert's confirmation hearing. Here's my favorite line:

"Incredibly, some even argue, as you well know -- people won't believe this -- but some are arguing today, in this constitutional exile group [that's me], who argue that the national government has no power to deal with what's going on in the Gulf at this moment."

Just in the time comes Radley Balko of the Cato Institute to remind us, as if we needed reminding, that where the government failed in it's response to the disaster in New Orleans, the private sector, as usual, came through:

By Wednesday of last week, the Hyatt company had sent food and supplies from its Atlanta and Houston hotels to its hotel in New Orleans. The New Orleans Hyatt is less than half a mile from the convention center, an area of the city local and federal government officials said was inaccessible. Oil companies had sent crews in to begin repairs of rigs and refineries on Monday. Television reporters, news crews, even Harry Connick, Jr. managed to navigate through a city the government said was too perilous for relief efforts.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune noted that by Thursday, WalMart had delivered thirteen trucks of supplies while government bureaucrats were still ringing their hands. By the time the federal government finally marched into New Orleans, the Red Cross had sheltered over 130,000 people, and delivered more than 2.5 million meals. By the time military brigades began rescuing people from rooftops, ordinary citizens had saved thousands with private boats.
In some cases, Mr. Balko tells us, the government actually blocked efforts by Red Cross and Salvation Army to provide help.

Many people commented to me that if we really wanted to save lives after the disaster of Hurricane Katrina, then we would have turned to an experienced CEO to coordinate rescue efforts. Please Mr. Biden, for the benefit of our citizens, during the next disaster, let's have the government stay in Washington.

Our favorite liberal E.J. Dionne has, of course, a different take on the lessons of Katrina. He says that the storm marked the end of the Bush Era. But in second thought, he believes that the Bush Presidency really ended long ago due to its policies on tax cuts, the Iraq war, and the suggestion that we privatize social security, an idea Mr. Dionne says people liked less the more the President talked about it.

But allow me to question that in the aftermath of FEMA's performance will people be more or less likely to trust government with their retirement savings?

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