Today’s Romney Kvetch

Obama Administration

I’m sure by now most of you have seen this video of Mittens calling to abolish FEMA, but here it is again —

The plan is for the federal government to shift responsibility and cost for disaster relief to the states, who will then turn it over to the private sector. Has anyone worked out the business plan for making a profit at disaster relief?

This is not to say that private business can’t respond to disasters, when it wants to. After 9/11, power and phone service was restored quickly to the financial district without Rudy Giuliani even having to ask. You might remember there was less interest in rebuilding New Orleans after Katrina.

Not everything that’s worth doing will make money, especially short term. There are some things that are just cost. Recovery from disaster is a prime example. I suppose the hard-core libertarians will argue that if rebuilding thir or that can’t be done at a profit, then let’s not do it. This is an argument for letting the nation fall into rot, sooner or later.

Effective disaster relief, especially on a large multi-state scale, requires management by people with experience at disaster relief. It makes sense to have a federal agency dedicated to responding to disasters, because such an agency can be staffed by people who are experts at disaster relief and who can coordinate work and resources across state lines.

Ideally, such an agency would not be subject to political machinations. The biggest reason FEMA failed to respond to Katrina is that so many of the pros had quit during the Bush Administration and been replaced by political cronies, and the massive loss of institutional memory and experience rendered FEMA into a bumbling mess.

But that’s why states can’t be expected to do disaster relief on their own, because so many disasters are once-in-a-lifetime phenomena. A state that hasn’t had a really massive flood, fire or storm in the past 20 years can’t be expected to put together an effective disaster management team on the fly.

This seems to obvious to me that I have to wonder about the basic intelligence of anyone who would suggest turning disaster relief entirely over to states, never mind trusting the tender mercies of private business. Of course, today Romney is saying he wouldn’t abolish FEMA. He might as well be wearing a T-shirt that says “total bullshit.” He has no convictions; he just makes stuff up as he goes along.

See also Matt Yglesias.

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  1. c u n d gulag  •  Oct 30, 2012 @11:00 am

    As I just wrote in the earlier post, the recovery will be its own stimulus.
    And the Federal and State government WILL use private contractors to help in the building and rebuilding.
    They always have, and they always will.
    After Katrina, the money went to the private companies owned by cronies of the politicians.
    A capably run FEMA will make sure that the best qualified private companies are involved, and not some pal of Mitt’s son Tagg, who quickly got together a company that’s allegedly supposed to rebuild beaches – while instead, it’s real main purpose is pocketing tax payers money.
    I trust President Obama to do that – implicitly.
    Putting Romney in the White House will be a Mittastrophe!!!

  2. c u n d gulag  •  Oct 30, 2012 @11:18 am

    Chris Christie gives FOX News a big sad :’-(

    After Christie gushes about President Obama, he’s asked by Steve Douchey if he knows when Mitt Romney will appear in NJ (to fake empathy).

    From LG&M:
    Fox News co-host Steve Doocy wondered when Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was going to get some of the same benefits from the hurricane with a photo op in disaster-stricken New Jersey towns.

    “Over the last couple of months, you have appeared throughout the country, Governor, on behalf of Mitt Romney,” Doocy remarked to Christie. “[W]e hear that perhaps Mr. Romney may do some storm-related events. Is there any possibility that Gov. Romney may go to New Jersey to tour some of the damage with you?”

    “I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested,” Christie replied, immediately shutting down the idea. “I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics and I could [sic] care less about any of that stuff.”

    “I have a job to do,” he added. “I’ve got 2.4 million people out of power, I’ve got devastation on the shore, I’ve got floods in the northern part of my state. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics then you don’t know me.”

    That sound you heard wasn’t another transformer blowing-up, it was the heads of Murdoch, Ailes, and hosts of FOX & Fiends, exploding.

  3. Stephen Stralka  •  Oct 30, 2012 @11:22 am

    Man, this is really getting down to the basic reason why we ditched the Articles of Confederation and adopted the Constitution: “Leave it to the states” wasn’t working. I’m sure a libertarian would argue that the Constitution says nothing about emergency management, but what about providing for the common defense? Is the federal government empowered to defend us from foreign invaders but not hurricanes?

    At any rate, the arguments for FEMA closely mirror the arguments for the federal government itself that are advanced in the Federalist Papers. As far as defense, it’s all about being able to coordinate resources across all the states and direct them to where they’re most needed. Turning emergency management over to the states is equivalent to letting each state defend itself with its own militia.

  4. moonbat  •  Oct 30, 2012 @11:57 am

    “[W]e hear that perhaps Mr. Romney may do some storm-related events. Is there any possibility that Gov. Romney may go to New Jersey to tour some of the damage with you?”

    What’s Romney going to do, stand on top of a destroyed house, and shout the GOP motto, “You’re On Your Own!! More Tax Cuts!!!” Great to hear Gov Christie man up. Fox and Fools, indeed.

  5. joanr16  •  Oct 30, 2012 @1:05 pm

    “I am for the abolition of FEMA until our next huge national disaster,” quoth Mittens, as subtext. Which huge national disaster, of course, was yesterday.

  6. Jen  •  Oct 30, 2012 @1:15 pm

    I’m just trying to imagine what the bidding process for private firms to clean up disasters would look like.

  7. joanr16  •  Oct 30, 2012 @1:24 pm

    I’m just trying to imagine what the bidding process for private firms to clean up disasters would look like.

    A Tailhook convention, I suspect.


  8. justme277  •  Oct 30, 2012 @2:09 pm

    Look this is still non- thinking at it’s finest..The federal government has resources no state or company does. When there is a blizzard and someone gets stranded, say on the road trying to get to a hospital as happened here a few winters ago who went after them in their heavy armored vehicle? Our national guard.When roads are destroyed cutting off the only way in or out of towns lets see how many lear jets we need to drop supplies like food or medicine to maintain a community. They are sitting around with those resources, right bain? We would get those supplies via cargo plane from our military. Oh and does anyone recall the old military commercial where we saw our military jump out of planes and construct bridges? Lets see the folks at pitney bowes do that shit!..

    Consider the flood of 93. The entire midwest was under friggin water.Any “company” with the equipment to be of any help what- so -ever was under friggin water too. And you say bring in stuff from companies in other part of the country? Good idea if the roads were not flooded.Are we going to assign magic underpants to coordinate the effort?

    I think of the national guard mobilized and working right beside the citizens of this community and so many others like mine , sand bagging their asses off trying to save cities and lives. Making sure that people had fresh water to drink. If it were not for their huge trucks and equipment and their manpower people would have lost so much more– property and lives were saved BECAUSE of them. They FOUGHT with the people down in the trenches. They protected certain high value places. You would not believe all they did, far above and beyond the call of duty. The red cross and others would not have even been able to get to people to help and do their jobs if not for the resources of the federal government. When I look back I am humbled and touched by their acts.

    It isn’t exclusive to my own life experience. If you have lived thru an earth quake, forest fire,hurricane,flood you’ve seen what I have seen.Heaven help us all if some mittwitt trys to outsource Fema..We may end up being directed to a call center in pakistan or molly.

  9. c u n d gulag  •  Oct 30, 2012 @2:16 pm

    Pitch perfect!!!

  10. moonbat  •  Oct 30, 2012 @2:20 pm

    I’m just trying to imagine what the bidding process for private firms to clean up disasters would look like.

    Katrina is probably the best example. Or the war profiteers who enriched themselves in Iraq. Pure crony capitalism.

    Robert Reich wrote that he was on one of last flights out of JFK before the storm hit. A flight attendant told him he was lucky to have a ticket. Around the time that all flights were cancelled, the airline had jacked the price up to $4000/seat, for a flight to California. Even with this astronomically high price, Reich’s flight was overbooked by 47 seats. The airline then offered $300, then $350, then $400 to ticket holders to give up their seats, for who knows when the next flight would leave. Not a bad deal for the airline.

    I could see private firms offering bottles of water, for example, for $20 each, to people stranded in disasters. The sad thing is, a couple generations ago people would have viewed this as immoral – in much the way that FDR and Harry Truman aggressively fought and criminalzed war profiteering. Today’s GOP sees it as completely normal behavior, to be applauded and cheered on.

  11. khughes1963  •  Oct 30, 2012 @5:11 pm

    Gee, wonderful timing (NOT) Mitt! I wonder if he misread Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine” as a how-to guide to profit off disasters?

  12. Bill B.  •  Oct 30, 2012 @7:47 pm

    On a related note, today (Tues) Zandar has an article on the 12 dead of fungal meninngitis as an example of state regs and the “free hand of the market” needing so little prompting to correct a known bad situation. How many state disasters left unmitigated will it take to recreate FEMA after R-money and Lyin’ Ryan gut it?

  13. Lynne  •  Oct 30, 2012 @8:37 pm

    Moonbat, you are so, sadly, right about not so long ago. This is the slippery slope we are truly sliding down, while some Republicans assure us this is the way of the future.