By Nathan Barton
The recent swarms of tornadoes across the eastern Great Plains and the record-setting flooding in Louisiana have once again showcased the benefits of depending on government for assistance in times of disaster and emergency. And at the same time, showing just how bad the private sector is in providing aid in those same times of crisis.
Yes, I am being sarcastic.
Government is incapable of doing anything well – unless you count the ability to take away the liberty and lives of people in wholesale lots to be something which is either needed or desirable. THAT it does well. Providing services, even the so-called “essential” services such as protecting people from violence, aggression, and crime, it does NOT.
We see the flooding in Louisiana, damaging or destroying 100,000 or more houses, tens of thousands of businesses and institutions and elements of infrastructure. We see people and businesses responding heroically and in more prosaic ways to fill the need of the hundreds of thousands of people. AirBNB and other internet and brick-and-mortar businesses are coordinating and providing for places to shelter, for repair materials and equipment, for food and clothing and transportation. We see the “Cajun Navy” out in boats rescuing not just people, but their livestock and pets.
Mama’s Note: So, of course, there are politicians who are writing “legislation” to require such rescuers are hampered in the usual bureaucratic way:
State Senator Jonathan Perry said he is currently drawing up legislation that would require members of the Cajun Navy to acquire training, certificates, and permits in order to rescue people from their predicament should they ever find their houses underwater again.
As for government? We see some parish (county) agencies and officials there side by side with the victims and private helpers. We see state agencies – some helping but too many hindering. Like the state police trying to keep the Cajun Navy from putting their boats in the water because “it’s too dangerous.” (Funny, where are the state police and office of emergency management boats going to rescue people and animals? Assuming it isn’t against their policy to rescue animals – which it IS in many jurisdictions.) We see the National Guard – which while “government” are first and foremost individuals who volunteer, often for little or no pay, to be ready to help their neighbors and communities.
And we see the FedGov… NOT. Even Trump, that evil racist old white guy, personification of greed, was down in Louisiana giving out help which HE paid for. And on the split screen of a VERY few “honest” media outlets, we saw that piece of garbage who squats in DC (some of the time when he’s not on vacation or campaigning) playing golf. FEMA trucks – or even FEMA CONTRACTOR trucks – hauling food and other relief supplies, hauling boats and crews to go rescue and check out buildings?
Mama’s Note: Actually, it is very good that Obama stayed away. Imagine all of the resources that would have been diverted to guarantee his safety, and the obstruction to the rescue efforts because his mere presence would block traffic and large areas from the very people he’s supposed to be visiting. Far, far better he stays on a golf course, somewhere… anywhere else.
I am somewhat tied to the “Emergency Management Community” in several states. I keep in touch with first responders and emergency planners and coordinators and even funding sources. It is slow, it is way too late, and it may not make any difference as things speed up, but more and more of the local (and even state-level) community realize that when the heat is on, when help is needed, when things are swirling around the drain, the FedGov is just NOT there. There may be LOCAL federal employees around and helping (or trying to help, being hamstrung by their insane regulations and policies), but they are not the powers-that-be: they are the local ag specialists and rangers and maintenance crews and clerical employees in the various agencies here in the West. The lowest of the low as far as federal employees are concerned: GS-3 and 5 and maybe GS-9 and GS-11. And they are often helping because they are family and friends and neighbors, and NOT because they are government employees or because it is “their duty.” And they realize too, that the help that should and in the past often has come from their state and regional offices just isn’t coming these days. At least not in a timely manner.
And too much of it is “reaction” when the politicians realize that if they don’t do something, the election is coming. Can’t stop or mitigate: just clean up. Like the cops: they can’t get to the scene of the crime in time to do anything in the best circumstances but take a police report (which will molder away in a file or sit there on a hard-drive), and in the worst circumstances, cart the bodies away. (Unless the cops make MORE bodies to cart away.)
Why is this? There is the natural, insane, and immoral inefficiency of government: it has a monopoly, most of the time, on these services. But even more, there is POLITICS: political pressures and NOT customer needs and demands drive the train of government decisions and funding. Is it “fair” and do all the elected officials get their slice of the pie to demonstrate to the electorate that they are needed (to be reelected)? Is it possible to at least hide the corruption, by creating bureaucratic controls that muddle the track record and make it possible for only the chosen to get the contracts and make the profits from being parasites? (Although to use the word profit in this case is to sully a perfectly good word: parasites loot, and there is no honest “profit” about what they steal.) Above all, politics is about the survival of the politicians – if not during their actual terms of office, then forever after – even after their prison terms.
And so, government’s actions DO produce results, but NOT the results we would sanely and reasonably expect: the results are more power, more need to pretend, and more money raked in.
And this is good, how? Enough is enough.