Monday, October 29, 2012

What We're Learning from Sandy

Hurricane Sandy is barreling into the East Coast right now, and it hasn't even made landfall yet (technically speaking -- try telling that to the folks in lower Manhatten). People all across the east coast, and even as far west as Chicago, are anticipating power outages, destruction, flooding, and a whole lot of mess to clean up.

While I still have power (I happen to be in Sandy's path), I would like to point out something I've noticed about the response so far. In many places, emergency crews are already on the move, working to clear out areas. While some of these are privately owned, many are public. That's the government, now.

Another point. Who's going to pay for the cleanup? In Vermont, they're still negotiating with FEMA over Hurricane Irene damage from a little over a year ago. But FEMA is still going to be providing a lot of financial support to state and local groups to get the recovery underway as soon as possible. Again, that's the government doing that.

The estimated cost for this little storm is stretching well into the billions. While local and state governments will fork over a hefty amount of that, the majority of the cost will fall to the federal government. The same thing happens whenever there is a natural or unnatural disaster in the US.

A great point here is to remember the BP oil spill. In those days, Republicans and fiscal hawks were beside themselves with the thought that the POTUS couldn't plug a stupid hole. Well, that's what happens when you cut funding to emergency programs like FEMA. You can't have a small government and a government that can solve every problem under the sun. It just doesn't work.

So, getting back to Sandy. It's worth pointing out that it will be federal dollars that repair the roads, bridges, power lines, and homes after all this is over, and rightly so. No other group has enough resources to do that without severely crippling its abilities in other areas are severely taxing its citizens. If we want a government that responds when we are down and out, we have to fund it properly.

I hope everyone stays safe, dry, and healthy today and in the days to come. No doubt it will be a bumpy road for many.

UPDATE: Everything fine here. But I did have to post this link.

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