Life without FEMA?

Elaborate networks of for-profit and nonprofit entities would plan ahead, mitigate damage, and provide assistance.

Advocates of big government never miss a chance to capitalize on a natural disaster. Even before the storm has passed, they will boast that without activist government, recovery would be impossible. Peddlers of this line ask us to imagine what life would be like today—in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy—without FEMA and the state and local emergency agencies. This, they say, is the condition to which opponents of big government would reduce the country.

But the statists lack imagination.

If you wonder what life would be like without a particular government agency, it is not enough simply to subtract the agency from a picture of our current world. That would imply a rather disparaging view of the human race. If there were no FEMA, would people just sit around in the rubble for the rest of their lives? Or would they do something, learn from their experience, and take precautions to minimize damage in the future?

To think people would not or could not do these things unless enlightened politicians were there to help them is to misconstrue the nature of government. What exactly does it bring to the table? Wealth? No, wealth is produced by people in the marketplace. Whatever wealth government has was extracted from producers. Competence and ingenuity? No again. These are attributes of people who would be working in the private economy if they weren’t lured into government employment.

The only thing government has that no one else has is the legal power to use force against peaceful people—the power to tax, to regulate, and to grant special privileges. That’s it. Anything creative and useful for recovery from a disaster already exists in civil society. No bully is needed.

Because government relies on force, there’s a big difference between activity in the marketplace and activity in the political realm. The free market’s price signals (when undistorted by government privilege) guide producers toward satisfying consumers, who can’t be compelled to buy. In contrast, government officials face no market test and so get no feedback on success or failure at producing needed services. (This assumes, unrealistically, that politicians primarily have the general population’s welfare in mind, rather than the welfare of special interests.)

You might think elections provide market-like feedback, but for a host of reasons voting is nothing like decision making in a market. No voter faces the full cost of her decision (most of the cost of a winning vote is imposed on everyone else), and one vote is not likely to be decisive anyway. Moreover, candidates hold bundles of disparate and often vague positions, requiring voters to accept policies they don’t like along with those they do. And that assumes candidates keep their promises, which they frequently fail to do. On the other hand, in a freed market, consumers’ choices would be specific and decisive, consumers would quickly learn if they made good decisions or not. Even today, if they are defrauded, they have recourse in the courts. (Try suing a politician for fraud.)

All of this explains why the market is a better place than the political realm for decision making. Without a market test, government “services” tend to be inappropriate, inadequate, or extravagant. Payment and service are unlinked. Politicians are judged by theatrics, not real performance.

Thus, we may conclude that if government were not providing a service people wanted, entrepreneurs in a free market would provide it. Insurance and related services were offered before government got into that business. Mutual-aid associations thrived before the rise of the comprehensive welfare state. And don’t think government was pressed into service because of the inadequacies of civil society. On the contrary, ambitious politicians and bureaucrats crowded out private solutions in quest of votes and power.

Had there been no FEMA, elaborate networks of for-profit and nonprofit entities would have planned ahead of disasters, mitigated damage, and provided post-disaster assistance. This approach would have been superior to what the government does, because freed markets have entrepreneurs risking their own resources to serve people; gauging success and failure, while governments have grasping bureaucrats and politicians, who get their money by force. That makes all the difference in the world.

This article originally appeared at The Future of Freedom Foundation.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Mr Whipple||

    What it boils down to is incentives and competence.

  • Fluffy||

    People vastly - vastly - overestimate FEMA's mission.

    FEMA does virtually nothing for real-time disaster recovery.

    FEMA does post-disaster rebuilding assistance and mitigation.

    So if a disaster wipes out your house and you're not insured, you can apply for individual post-disaster assistance. Or if your town incurs extraordinary clean-up or repair costs that it can't pay for, it can apply to get FEMA to pay its bills. Or if a particular road floods in every disaster and it needs a particular design change to not flood in the next one, FEMA might give your state mitigation funds to redesign the road.

    What FEMA does not do is save people. Local and state police and firemen save people. And the National Guard.

    Even if you agree with every element of FEMA's mission, it's all stuff that could be handled by state governments. So why don't state governments do it? Answer: because state governments have to balance their budgets. And they're unwilling to set aside funds to deal with disasters. The existence of FEMA frees states from the necessity of planning for the future, because the federal government can just borrow the money and throw it at the states.

  • Fluffy||

    The other reason states don't want this task is because individual states love it when property subject to disaster is developed anyway. States get the economic benefit of development, and the federal government gets the costs. This is one reason coastal development and development in the south took off after 1979. All the places people had been too smart to build on before that suddenly were fair game, because if anything went wrong the federal government would just borrow money and throw it at the problem.

    If New Jersey had to come up with the money to rebuild the Jersey shore, they wouldn't rebuild it. But since they won't have to pay for it themselves, they'll duplicate the same mess that was there before. (And yes, a lot of NJ development predates FEMA, but it wouldn't be rebuilt without it. And Long Island's development was "filled in" after 1979 without regard for the obvious dangers because it wasn't going to be New York's problem if something went wrong.)

  • John||

    FEMA does other things too. Namely it hands out a ton of grants to first responders. That is why Congress loves it and it never gets fixed. It is a completely incompetent organization. And it always has been. An interesting read is the IG report on the Red River floods that happened in the mid 1990s. It reads just like the ones from Katrina. FEMA was every bit as bad or worse then as it was during Katrina. The difference was that you never heard about how horrible it was because the Red River floods didn't happen in a place the media liked, didn't happen to minorities and there was a Democrat in the White House. FEMA is utterly incompetent. But because it hands out so many goodies, it has too many friends in Congress to ever be fixable.

  • bethsioux||

    The comments I remember hearing from Salvation Army and FEMA during the 1997 flood in Grand Forks (which was to that date, the largest natural disaster $-wise) was the fact that people up here helped each other, with or without FEMA's aid. The best charitable organization---WAY better than FEMA--was the Salvation Army. Their president didn't make a 6-figure salary, they ALL busted their hump, so for Sandy I am giving to them and Mercury One, as 100% of the donation there goes to the victims. It's mantra is we have to start taking gov't apart, make it smaller and start taking care of ourselves and each other..hmm I like the idea of a smaller, less intrusive, govt that means WE the PEOPLE..It worked out well for us in North Dakota, by looking out and helping our neighbor, we had ZERO fatalities, 'cause we were in it together, and not regulated to death , worried about a potential lawsuit in our future...we never really understood Katrina

  • Mr Whipple||

    FEMA also handles National Flood insurance. How many of the homes built in flood prone areas would have been built without it?

    It's just another example of government interference in the market resulting in mal-investments.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Excellent point.

    Some of the things government does in the name of disaster relief make disasters worse.

  • Alan||

    +1

    Why don't people pay a little more to put houses in these areas on even short stilts? Because it costs a little more, and the government will pay to rebuild it.

    Why don't they build houses with designs that can withstand storms, like the OLD beach houses were built? Because they don't like that style, and the government will pay to rebuild it anyway.

    And by the government, I mean taxpayers who chose to not take the risk of building in dangerous locations, but who are saddled with the cost anyway.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    And by the government, I mean taxpayers who chose to not take the risk of building in dangerous locations, but who are saddled with the cost anyway.

    This aspect of federal "relief" is what angers me most.

    I choose not to live on the coast because I've been in a major storm before (Andrew), and don't want to go through the material and financial costs of the aftermath again. Except that I'm forced to pay for other people making the choice to live in those areas, even when I actively have chosen to avoid living there.

  • jester||

    I thought Bush got rid of FEMA during his frenzy of deregulation. Did Obama bring it back to life? I guess I should read the paper more often.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "FEMA does post-disaster rebuilding assistance and mitigation."

    The post disaster stuff is the most important part.

    One of the main reasons so many people die in Hati from natural disasters and so few die in the United States is because we're wealthy enough to respond.

    Most of those Hatians die in the aftermath.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I don't mean we're just wealthy enough for the government to respond either.

    If the big earthquake hits, I'm wealthy enough that I can get the f out of Dodge in the aftermath.

    ...if I want to.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ou5OFEWj9Jg

    Haitians can't do that. They don't have the money to go, and they don't have the money to take care of themselves once they get there.

    Prosperity is the greatest defense against natural disasters. Even here in the U.S., the people who suffered the most from Katrina were the poor.

    Get more of them prosperous, and a lot of disaster related problems disappear with their poverty.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    Haitians could do that if only they would cultivate better relations with the Dominicans.

  • John Tagliaferro||

    People vastly - vastly - overestimate FEMA's mission.

    Exactly why FEMA's budget is vastly, vastly, bloated.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Had there been no FEMA, elaborate networks of for-profit and nonprofit entities would have planned ahead of disasters, mitigated damage, and provided post-disaster assistance.

    Sean Hannity, you are a great libertarian.

  • geo1113||

    Now I have an excuse to buy ice cream sandwiches.

  • np||

    I wonder how those ice-cream sandwiches work.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    When you're caught in a blizzard?

    No, they're not even cold. These things are sort of like skim milk candy between two chocolate crackers. Not a good description, I know. I hate them.

  • SIV||

    I'm waiting for conservative talk hosts to start endorsing AR-15 accessories and tactical shotguns.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    AA-12!

  • Lewisite||

    This^ + buckshot

  • John Tagliaferro||

    I am not a talk host, nor am I that conservative, but I endorse the SAGA-12 and 9 shell magazines.

  • Generic Stranger||

    Fuck the 9 shell magazines. Make enough changes to the gun to squeak past 922r(o) (or whatever that idiotic fucking law is) and go for the 20 round drum mags.

  • Mike M.||

    The New York Daily News stuns the world and endorses Mitt Romney for president.

    Kudos to the usually reliably liberal News to have the courage to tell the unvarnished truth about the dismal state of affairs in this country.

  • jester||

    Mitt Romney isn't a Liberal?

  • Mike M.||

    Calling him a liberal would probably be going too far, but he is clearly an old-style centrist republican in the mold of Ford, Rockefeller, and Eisenhower. That is probably why the Daily News feels comfortable enough that they can endorse him.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Mitt Romney isn't a Liberal?

    No he's a socialist, just like Obama.

    Scratch that, he's a worse socialist than Obama.

    / Team Orange

  • Calidissident||

    If you consider Obama a socialist, then I don't think it's absurd to consider Romney one as well

  • Mike M.||

    Obama is on record as saying that "spreading the wealth around" is one of his top priorities. That's pretty much the textbook definition of socislism. Romney has never said anything like that.

  • ||

    Perhaps in the tinfoil hat world there is a term called "socislism [sic]" defined as "spreading the wealth around." But, in what the majority of us refer to as reality, the term is spelled "socialism" and it's textbook definition is "common or public ownership of the means of production." FYI

  • ||

    Obama and Romney are statist interventionists, not socialists.

  • Kyfho Myoba||

    Of COURSE he's never SAID anything like that (out loud, in front of cameras), but he certainly HAS done something like that.

    Pay no attention to what they say, and put all your attention on what they do.

  • John||

    I wonder how many New Yorkers and Jerseyites are going to vote against Obama but just won't say. Not enough to tip either state. But I bet enough to get the media screaming about the secret racist Bradley effect.

  • SIV||

    I couls see NJ tipping if it is a wave election if not for all the early voting

  • PapayaSF||

    Even in states not hit, Sandy is making Obama look bad.

  • Sevo||

    "Had there been no FEMA, elaborate networks of for-profit and nonprofit entities would have planned ahead of disasters, mitigated damage, and provided post-disaster assistance."

    Well, given FEMA's record, some folks aren't waiting around in the hopes the gov't gets off its ass:
    "Atlanta —
    FEMA has nothing on the Home Depot."
    http://www.wsbradio.com/news/n.....ast/nSsMr/

  • Mr Whipple||

    And, they had nothing on Walmart after Katrina.

    The failures of FEMA and other government agencies during Hurricane Katrina have been widely acknowledged in both the popular press and academic literature. However, much less attention has been paid to the successful private sector response during the storm and its aftermath. Wal-Mart and other private retailers played an extraordinarily effective role in the disaster relief process. This paper describes aspects of Wal-Mart’s emergency response system and details their actions during the storm. I argue that Wal-Mart’s successful response was a product of the incentives, knowledge, and superior organizational routines that emerge through private ownership and competitive markets. Because their effectiveness is a function of that institutional context, policy makers should be wary of trying to import or imitate Wal-Mart’s practices in the very different institutional context of the public sector, or assuming that better management, more concern, or additional resources will improve the performance of government agencies.

    - Steve Horwitz

    http://myslu.stlawu.edu/~shorw.....Rescue.pdf

  • Sevo||

    Wife tells me there was a TV news segment on Lowes efforts also.

  • Mr Whipple||

    And, it's not just "for-profit" institutions. Here's an example of what could be considered a "mutual-aid" institution.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....61067.html

  • Nephilium||

    Waffle House even has an in-depth disaster recovery plan.

  • Romulus Augustus||

    Typically, cynics visualize a situation where libertarians are parachuted into a decades-old governmentally caused crisis and then ask how we would fix it. "President Johnson couldn't get any of his ideas implemented." or "How would New Jersey survive without federal cleanup aid?" Of course, it is all unfair because, as Richman points out, other mechanisms would have evolved in the free market to alleviate problems. But libertarians are, in effect, in the parachute situation so we do have to explain how voting for us over
    a span of time will permit all the bad things about government to be undone with creating chaos.

  • John||

    Slate goes full pre election retard this weekend.

    First we get this

    http://www.slate.com/articles/.....lican.html

    I'm voting for Barack Obama on Election Day. This fact will appear on Slate's list of which candidates its writers are voting for, a list which will almost certainly look like the 2008 list, which is to say an almost unbroken string of "Obama." People will look at this list—Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama—and they will say, Look at the Slate writers, inside their bubble.

    And they will be wrong. There is a real, airtight bubble in this election, but it's not Obama's. As a middle-aged white man, in fact, I'm breaching it. White people—white men in particular—are for Mitt Romney. White men are supporting Mitt Romney to the exclusion of logic or common sense, in defiance of normal Americans. Without this narrow, tribal appeal, Romney's candidacy would simply not be viable. Most kinds of Americans see no reason to vote for him.

    And that is actually the intelligent and less hateful part. It goes down from there.

  • jester||

    Already posted on H&R.

  • John||

    I don't see it.

  • jester||

    Sorry. It was in the comments thread on the previous post at 6:44 by A Serious Man.

    No reason not to re-beat the dead horse again. Besides PBP and the trolls aren't here....yet.

  • Ted S.||

    You know, it is possible to link directly to individual comments. See that # sign at the top of each comment next to the timestamp?

  • Mike M.||

    Yep, this is the rather obvious narrative that has been predetermined by the scum when Romney wins; Obama lost because the evil racist white people disn't give him a fair chance and turned their backs on him.

  • The Derider||

    Racist whites prefer Romney 9 to 1.

    In the most recent Apollo Group/National Journal Next America Poll, just under half of whites said they considered the growing number of newcomers from other countries a threat to traditional American values. These whites preferred Romney over Obama by nearly 9-to-1. (Obama, by contrast, drew almost three-fifths support among whites who did not view the demographic change as a threat.)

    http://www.nationaljournal.com.....2-20121102

  • Cytotoxic||

    And in less than 3 hours, full vindication for Mike M.

  • John||

    Shut up you angry little midget. How many racist blacks are voting for Obama? Got you are just pathetic. No one is going to have anything to do with you after the stunt you pulled running off. Crawling back now that it looks like the Republicans are in charge again and you don't have to defend anything anymore is not going to work.

  • Pagan Priestess||

    Liberal whites will vote for Obama to prove to their friends that they aren't racists, and blacks will vote for Obama to demonstrate that they really are. Republicans will vote for Romney to show that they aren't Democrats. And in the end, it doesn't matter; the great kleptocracy that is the US government will not change in any way shape or form.

  • John||

    Then there is this. Village idiot Dalia Lithwick explains how Reinquist was really THE RACIST!!

    http://www.slate.com/articles/.....iewed.html

    The Rehnquist who emerges is an inexplicable mystery. Jenkins time and again describes a “duality” in Rehnquist’s character: a cold and determined conservative with no patience for the legal claims of women, minorities, or death-row inmates, camouflaged behind a gregarious, almost madcap persona that was all impish charm and practical jokes.

    I guess since Lithwick is too stupid to understand the relevant legal arguments, she just assumes that one racism can explain the decisions.

  • Skip||

    An old white man made racist jokes! I'm sure this is a shock to most of Slate.

  • John||

    http://dailycaller.com/2012/11.....lity-crews

    NY Union members shout scumbags at visiting utility crews. But remember Unions gave us the weekend and protect the people.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "UPDATE: The Daily Caller has learned that the audio Sean Hannity played during his Friday, Nov. 2 broadcast was taken from a 2011 union protest against replacement workers during a Verizon strike."

    From your link.

    We have to be careful, John. The partisan winds are blowing especially hard, right now, so hard they're blowing the facts around to support whatever given narrative.

  • John||

    True. the union people can't even work up there the last I read. So they are not there to be called names.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I read that too!

    That one's apparently legit.

    There was a crew that came to volunteer from Alabama, and the local agencies wouldn't let them help because they weren't in the union.

  • Agammamon||

    Snopes.com

    The crew was presented with some paperwork having to do with union, I don't know what, stuff and decided to bail rather than sort it out.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Had there been no FEMA, elaborate networks of for-profit and nonprofit entities would have planned ahead of disasters, mitigated damage, and provided post-disaster assistance."

    Some of us still remember a lot of poor people waiting around at the Louisiana Superdome, and nobody bothering to feed or rescue them. There remain open questions about what happens when saving people without means is unprofitable.

    Rather than imagine a world without FEMA, I'd rather talk about the way these government agencies do things. Providing cheap insurance for people to live on floodplains, for instance, makes disasters worse. And there are all sorts of other things we can do to make the government smaller--without getting rid of FEMA.

    Getting rid of FEMA will be one of the last things an increasingly libertarian society gets rid of. And when we start asking people to imagine a world without FEMA, I think it makes it harder for them to imagine a world with libertarians running things.

    And we've got bigger fish to fry anyway.

  • John||

    You just leave it up to the states. The states work together. And most of the heavy lifting during Katrina was done by the military. If you get a really bid disaster, you let DOD run it. You really don't need FEMA.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The states are often overwhelmed.

    During those fires in 2007, FEMA evacuated about a million people from San Diego in a day.

    We can do a lot of good things getting rid of government without getting rid of an agency that can handle stuff like that. We can improve the way FEMA does things--but nobody listens to libertarians talk about getting rid of FEMA and thinks, "Gee, I sure wish those guys were running things."

    Let's get rid of the Commerce Department and the Department of Education, and, then--maybe--we should start talking about getting rid of FEMA.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Do you ever get tired of being a mealy-mouthed lickspittle?

    Just wondering.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Do you ever get tired of being a troll?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Criticizing how devoid of principles you are is "trolling"?

    Again, the typical Kendall Shultz-ian unwarranted view of self-importance.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Calling people names because you have nothing to say makes you a troll.

    Why do you call yourself "Heroic Mulatto"? Are you trying to make fun of the president's race? ...are you calling him names?

    If so, then that's trollish behavior, too. That would make your troll name about two steps below "Palin's Buttplug".

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Calling people names because you have nothing to say makes you a troll.

    When the description is accurate, it's merely an observation, not trolling, Kendall. And it is a fact that you have no principles.

    Why do you call yourself "Heroic Mulatto"? Are you trying to make fun of the president's race? ...are you calling him names?

    I've already explained to you that I am multi-racial Trinidadian heritage. So don't attempt to mau-mau me with the race card, jackass.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "When the description is accurate, it's merely an observation, not trolling, Kendall. And it is a fact that you have no principles."'

    That's what Stack would say. I bet she really believes it, too!

    "I've already explained to you that I am multi-racial Trinidadian heritage. So don't attempt to mau-mau me with the race card, jackass."

    This is the first I've heard of that.

    You're gonna have to color me skeptical on that one, Buddy Ro!

    I'll just invoked Occam's razor here:

    You're either a multi-racial Trinidadian, who gets offended when people say bad things about rednecks--and mocks those who complain about racism...

    OR you're making fun of the president because of his race.

    Which one is the simpler explanation?

    LOL

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Dear Kendall,

    You're an asshole.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    And 15 minutes after Kendall has been exposed as the mendacious, pompous ass he/she is....no response, and no apology.

    Because I didn't fit Kendall's preconceived notions of how someone of my ethnicity should act, he/she wouldn't accept that I am who I say I am. Yet, Shultz called me a racist.

    Of course, in the next thread Kendall will, again, conveniently 'forget' that this ever happened, and when questioned will resort to racial-name calling again, as he/she is incapable of arguing in good faith.

    Does your foot taste good, Kendall?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    In case you forgot how you embarrassed yourself 2 weeks ago, Kendall.

    It's quite pitiful, really, that you haven't realize that you're nothing more than a punchline to a joke that no one needs to tell on this forum.

    Of course, you'll ignore any evidence that your pearl-clutching is hyperbolic and meant for nothing more than soothing your false sense of moral superiority, and when someone calls you on that, you'll call them an anti-Black bigot, even if said person has African heritage. And of course, you'll never apologize for falsely claiming someone a racist. Apology is for lesser people, not for Kendall Schultz.

    You're a clown.

  • Ken Shultz||

    More name calling?

    Let me guess, you found a link exposing me a supporter of violent terrorists?!

    I won't even bother.

    You're a troll.

    You may be a Trinidadian multi-ethnic troll, but you're a troll regardless.

  • sticks||

    If either of you are trolls, you suck at it.

  • Ken Shultz||

    If either of you are trolls, you suck at it.

    Not knowing how to be good at trolling?

    Yeah, I confess. Guilty as charged.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Let me guess, you found a link exposing me a supporter of violent terrorists?!

    No that's the link where you assumed I was a White redneck bigot.

    You may be a Trinidadian multi-ethnic troll, but you're a troll regardless.

    Oh callou, callay! The great Kendall Shultz has granted me the honor of my own ethnic heritage!

  • Ken Shultz||

    Um...not exactly.

    I'm saying that--even IF you are--you're still a troll.

    Name calling out of the box?

    Check.

    Accusing someone of supporting violent terrorists?

    Check.

    Troll.

    Oh, and, incidentally, there are an awful lot of bigots out there trolling political boards and spouting racist drivel against the president. I bet there are a lot of people who see your name and assume you're making fun of the president. I've seen people use the word "mulatto" to make fun of Barack Obama before, and, unfortunately, I bet I'll see it again.

    ...but IF you are what you say you are, you should seriously consider changing your troll name if you don't want people to mistake you for an anti-Obama bigot.

    IF IF IF you are what you say you are.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Name calling out of the box?

    Check.

    It's not name calling when it's true. You have demonstrated time and time again that you are willing to bend-over backwards to "sell" liberty. You have the principles of a prostitute; I was being kind when I called you a mealy-mouthed lickspittle.

    Accusing someone of supporting violent terrorists?

    Check.

    You do. You accept their grievance-mongering at face value and reject any attempts to critically examine their claims of 'oppression'.

    Oh, and, incidentally, there are an awful lot of bigots out there trolling political boards and spouting racist drivel against the president. I bet there are a lot of people who see your name and assume you're making fun of the president. I've seen people use the word "mulatto" to make fun of Barack Obama before, and, unfortunately, I bet I'll see it again.

    ...but IF you are what you say you are, you should seriously consider changing your troll name if you don't want people to mistake you for an anti-Obama bigot.

    You are the most unlettered person I have had the misfortune of interacting with. Just because you are ignorant of the literary trope of the "tragic mulatto" and thus unable to appreciate the wordplay in my forum name, doesn't mean the majority of people here don't get the humor behind it.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    IF IF IF you are what you say you are.

    I don't have to prove myself to you. Any evidence I have given has been at my pleasure, and this ethnic inquisition just makes you look like an asshole. Especially since you can't bring yourself to admit that I was a hell of a cute kid.

  • Ken Shultz||

    You uploaded a photo? Congratulations, I'm sure you're precious.

    But I haven't bothered to look at any of your links. I figured out everything I needed to know the moment I saw this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6SvsP0EsTM

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    But I haven't bothered to look at any of your links.

    So basically you've attacked me, calling my claims of multi-racial heritage false, but when I respond you plugged your fingers in your ears and went "la, la, la"? You're a bigger jerk than I thought.

    I figured out everything I needed to know the moment I saw this:

    Err...ok....whatever that means.

  • Generic Stranger||

    Err...ok....whatever that means.

    It's the trololololo song. Basically, he just called you a troll again.

  • ||

    But I haven't bothered to look at any of your links.

    Wouldn't want to let any inconvenient facts or information penetrate that virginal territory between your ears.

    I thought I was having deja vu when you trotted out the "mulatto = racist against Obama!" bullshit again. It's telling that you use that trope so often you can't even keep track of it.

    But please, let's not let that troll fodder get in the way of this very, very serious discussion. I believe you were telling us what an efficient and libertarian institution FEMA is? I mean, how could these half-educated redneck racists not get that?

    How wonderful it would be if you were trolling...

  • John||

    he states are often overwhelmed

    That is why they have EMACS and go to the other states for help.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I think there are better, private ways to handle a lot of what FEMA does.

    I just don't think we're ever gonna win this battle--and we're likely to do libertarianism more harm than good by letting ourselves be painted this way...

    People on the margins of libertarianism aren't about to be persuaded by hearing that we're against the very existence of FEMA.

    We already have to overcome them thinking we want to leave the poor to starve--much worse if they think we also refuse to save the drowning.

  • John||

    I work with FEMA. I understand the politics of it. But I can tell you that they are worthless. A complete waste of money.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It bugs the hell out of me, the way they don't always play nice with the Army Corps.

    Just because the Corps goes out and builds a flood channel, doesn't mean they bother to tell FEMA about it.

    So, I've seen properties where floodways and floodplains were eliminated a decade ago by the Army Corps, and FEMA's floodmaps were never updated. This creates all sorts of problems...

    Among them? It may mean that a lot of people are getting subsidized insurance when they're aren't even in a flood plain anymore! For others, it means they have to bring in tons of fill dirt--unnecessarily!

    I think an enterprising hydrologist could make a fortune just going around the country and identifying properties where the Army Corps has put in flood channels--and FEMA never bothered to update the maps.

    Get the likely beneficiaries of you changing the map, who probably aren't even aware of the problem, to pony up for the cost, and get some investors to team up with you and buy some of that land. You can make land a lot more valuable by getting rid of a floodplain.

  • Agammamon||

    They don't play nice with the ACE because both agencies believe they have a mandate to do whatever the hell they deem necessary and screw anyone caught in the way.

  • ||

  • ||

    Concern troll is concerned.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    During those fires in 2007, FEMA evacuated about a million people from San Diego in a day.

    Bull fucking shit.

    You lose all credibility with lies like that.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Oh no, Mr. Zytsev, Kendall Shultz never lies and is never wrong. When he claims I'm a bigoted, rural, southern White man despite photographic evidence given, IT'S THE GOSPEL TRUTH and an attempt to criticize it is "trolling".

  • The Heresiarch||

    Yeah, I call bullshit on this too. I was just a few miles from the fires and I don't recall any mass evacuations. Quick Googling also fails to turn up any number close to this.

  • Agammamon||

    Uhm, I was *in* San Diego in 2007 and I don't remember FEMA evacuating anything like a million people,let alone in a day.

    As a matter of fact, I don't remember a million people being evacuated at all.

    It would have been pretty memorable too, since as of the 2010 census, San Diego *County* only has slightly more than 3 million people in it.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Ken Shultz,

    Getting rid of FEMA will be one of the last things an increasingly libertarian society gets rid of.

    You don't explain why and I read your post twice. Your post looks more like an indictment on government's interference and not a defense of FEMA.

  • Ken Shultz||

    The reason why is because the aspects of libertarianism that are least popular are the ones that would get rid of government programs that are perceived as helping the most vulnerable people.

    We'll cut programs that help the rich first. And we won't get to the ones that are seen as helping the most vulnerable people until the very end of the line.

    Since FEMA is perceived as helping victims of natural disasters, they're probably just ahead of orphans in line to see who gets their program cut--and orphans are probably at the very end of the line.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    So in short, Ken's cows are more sacred than your cows.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Ken Shultz,

    The reason why is because the aspects of libertarianism that are least popular are the ones that would get rid of government programs that are perceived as helping the most vulnerable people.

    So your argument in favor of keeping FEMA is a political one, not one based in libertarian philosophy, or economics?

  • Ken Shultz||

    That is correct.

    I'm not saying what we SHOULD do.

    I'm saying what's going to happen.

    If we ever live to see a truly libertarian society, FEMA will be one of the last vestiges of government to go.

  • ||

    Concern troll is concerned.

  • Agammamon||

    I don't remember FEMA feeding and clothing those people either.

  • Mike M.||

    Sean Patrick Smith's mother Patricia: "I believe that Barack Obama murdered my son."

    Mrs. Smith says she voted for Obama in 08, but I have a funny feeling this poor lady will be going a different way this time around.

  • Mike M.||

    Better link here.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • jester||

    Obama is an assassin yes. Murderer is a stretch. He certainly was negligent. Don't call me out for using a word that starts with n.

  • Mike M.||

    Perhaps, but that distinction is of little comfort to the families of the Benghazi Four.

    I bet that the families of the victims of Nidal Malik Hasan probably don't too highly of him either, for that matter.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    She's a grieving Mom and her words should be viewed in that context.

    Of course the MSM would be going non-stop apeshit with this (and Benghazi in general, and FEMA's screwups) if a Republican was in office.

  • John||

    Contrast the treatment she is getting with what Cindy Sheehan got.

  • Cytotoxic||

    SNAP.

  • Lewisite||

    This^.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Obama is an assassin yes. Murderer is a stretch.

    Wrong.

    He went from a borderline murderer to straight-up murderer when he killed the younger al awlaki boy at a fucking funeral.

    Obama is a murderer.

  • Agammamon||

    NO she won't, because "Romney would be worse".

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Seen this SEIU banner ad?

    Unbelievable. I think they're getting seriously worried about turnout this year.

  • Cytotoxic||

    This makes me want to shoot up one of those Trayvon targets.

  • OldMexican||

    But the statists lack imagination.

    Oh? You noticed that too, Sheldon?

    How many of the resident anti-market ideologues have asked many times here the same boring question: "How can the market supply this, or that"? As if their lack of imagination suddenly became everybody else's burden to bear.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "How can the market supply this, or that"? As if their lack of imagination suddenly became everybody else's burden to bear."

    It explains their support for coercive solutions to global warming--'cause there's no way the market could possibly innovate better solutions.

    They play the other side of the same fence, too. They assume that no matter how badly they treat the market, it'll keep laying golden eggs.

    They're oblivious on both sides.

  • ||

    Inorite? You should hear some of these guys. They're all like, "How could the free market evacuate people from post-disaster scenarios?" Soooo oblivious.

  • Jerry on the road||

    Romney has marginal lead in Michigan: http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/st.....higan-poll

  • John||

    It is also close in PA. Ohio may not matter if either of those states go Romney.

  • robc||

    If MI and/or PA goes to Romney, I dont see how Ohio doesnt too.

  • John||

    True. I look at it this way. In 2008, we were talking about Republican states like Indiana and North Carolina being close and maybe going D. This year we are talking about what is going to happen in Dem states like Wisconsin, PA and Michigan. I can't see how that bodes well for Obama.

  • Ice Nine||

    Yeah, there are so many things pointing to a Romney win. What I can't understand is Intrade's iconoclastic refusal to budge off Obama. Do those guys read Nate Silver and nothing else, or what?

  • Cytotoxic||

    Really? Romney's leads are too damn small. He has too few ways to an EC win. I'm calling it for Obama, at least by EC. He could lose the popular vote.

  • Ice Nine||

    Small leads I understand. So why isn't it closer to 50/50 on Intrade? It has been O65/R35 for months except for a blip after the first debate.

  • John||

    http://thehill.com/homenews/ca.....nge-remark

    The Revenge remark is not helping. God he is a stupid candidate. What was Obama thinking?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Spokeswoman Psaki said a Romney TV ad running in the state that suggests Chrysler was moving production of Jeep models to China was an attempt at “frightening workers in Ohio into thinking, falsely, that they’re not going to have a job.”

    Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle.

    I can't can totally believe the Obama campaign would actually say that!

  • Ken Shultz||

    Isn't it just awful that someone would suggest that if you don't vote for him, you might lose your job?

    Actually, isn't that the whole Obama campaign strategy?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    During those fires in 2007, FEMA evacuated about a million people from San Diego in a day.

    Sure they did.

    Did they use the USAF Blimp Squadron?

  • John||

    No silly. They packed them up in Mersk SEALAND containers and shipped them.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yeah, those people mostly drove themselves around, sure, but FEMA didn't screw up taking care of those evacuees like they did in Katrina.

    "The fires forced approximately 1,000,000 people to evacuate their homes, the largest evacuation in California's history.[17]"

    So, digging into the numbers, I was wrong about that being just in San Diego. That number was from Southern California completely--but I think it included people from San Diego County, who aren't inside the city proper.

    Here's just from the City of San Diego:

    "Two days into the fires, approximately 500,000 people from at least 346,000 homes were under mandatory orders to evacuate,[30] the largest evacuation in the region's history.[31]"

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O.....ego_County

    That's mighty impressive. And there were no accusations I heard of that FEMA screwed up on the service side. There were accusations that they disguised FEMA employees as journalists, but that's a lot better than what they were accused of in New Orleans.

    Anyway, being able to take care of a million evacuees within a day or two is mighty impressive if you ask me, and the fact that few people even remember the fires of 2007 anymore outside of San Diego County is a pretty good testament to how well FEMA did.

    Just because we don't like them doesn't mean we have to pretend they never do anything right.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Just because we don't like them doesn't mean we have to pretend they never do anything right.

    And the Mongols had an extremely developed postal system. Your point?

  • Ken Shultz||

    The point is that FEMA apparently did a good job taking care of a million evacuees in a day or two--and just because we don't like them doesn't mean we have to pretend they never do anything right.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I refer you to the Late P Brooks' comment @ 11:16 am. There is nothing "right" about the increasing attacks on the American values of self-reliance and self-sufficiency.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    The point is that FEMA apparently did a good job taking care of a million evacuees in a day or two

    Except that FEMA did no such thing.

  • Ken Shultz||

    What do you mean?

  • Ken Shultz||

    I mean, not all 1 million of those people ended up in FEMA trailers, but when a million people evacuated in a day or two, FEMA did a good job of doing whatever needed to happen to handle that.

    It sure as hell wasn't like Katrina.

    We can still argue for libertarianism without pretending that FEMA has never done anything right.

    Really.

  • DJF||

    “””FEMA did a good job of doing whatever needed to happen to handle that.”’’

    Such a FEMA standing around and watching as a million people got in their cars and went to motels or relatives houses.

    If you are going to claim that FEMA did something you are going to have to point out exactly what they did. Not just the fact that there was no major problems with the evacuations.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    What do you mean?

    I mean that FEMA didn't do shit in that instance. Which is actually an improvement from what they did in NO during Katrina to trap people. But they sure as hell didn't evacuate, feed or house anyone.

  • Lewisite||

    The irony here is that FEMA is praised for not tripping over its own feet, or getting in the way of people looking after themselves...LOL..go figure. My experience with FEMA after a hurricane destroyed my town taught me a valuable lesson about FEMA's fecklessness of scale I won’t soon forget. NY/NJ are in for a real treat.

    "One does not applaud the tenor for clearing his throat"

  • ||

    Exactly. "Hey, they may not have helped, but at least they didn't release mustard gas and kill a million people!" isn't exactly a ringing endorsement, regardless of your political orientation.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Don't diss the Mongols! Genghis Khan is unfairly maligned!

  • Agammamon||

    Uhm, what did FEMA have to do with taking care of those evacuees? It was the Red Cross who ran that.

    The *state* agency ordered the evacuations, the *state* agency coordinated the response between multiple other states and the federal government.

    FEMA didn't do shit.

  • The Heresiarch||

    Well, I very well may have been one of those people in that 500,000, but I never evacuated. From what I observed of my neighbors, neither did they. You're assuming 1) that anyone under an evacuation order in fact evacuated; and 2) that FEMA had anything to do with their evacuation. "Evacuation" in this case simply means driving to some place where the fires aren't burning. You don't need FEMA to do that. In fact, FEMA might just get in the way.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    “Voting is the best revenge.”

    Talk about a double-edged sword...

  • John||

    When you have basically told half of the country "I won go fuck yourself" for four years, it is a bit of a double edged sword isn't it?

  • Cytotoxic||

    When you're the incumbent, one of those edges sure is a hell of a lot sharper htan the other.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    approximately 500,000 people from at least 346,000 homes were under mandatory orders to evacuate

    Enforced helplessness.

    That's impressive, all righty.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Aparrently, the geniuses on ABC right now believe Jesus sent the hurricane down from Heaven to save Zero the Magnificent's second term.

  • ||

    I',m sure they'll add thyat without government intervention all those desperate people tsanding in gas lines would have been price-gouged by unscrupulous gas station owners.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Gimme yer munny.

    “We’ll rebuild it,” said Mr. Schaad, who owns a landscaping business, “and it will still be a fabulous place. It won’t be the same, but we’ll be back.”

    "WE"?

    Knock yourself out, Bub, but use your own money.

  • Alice Bowie||

    Let's do what the libertarians want and let the STATES fund and operate their own FEMA. I'm fine with that. This way the Floridian 'free-loaders' as they would be referred to by libertarians can fund their own hurricane relief.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    What's wrong with that?

    In an extreme emergency Congress could make direct appropriations to the effected states, the rest of the time the states should deal with it themselves.

  • Lisa||

    Agreed. It should be up to the states. That way you can get away from having to pay for other people's decisions to live in natural disaster prone areas.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Alice Bowie,

    Let's do what the libertarians want and let the STATES fund and operate their own FEMA.

    Who said that libertarians want a FEMA, state-managed or otherwise?

    This way the Floridian 'free-loaders' as they would be referred to by libertarians can fund their own hurricane relief.

    Just as I fund my own car stealing relief, or my house fire relief. It's called "insurance," in case you've been living feral in the Yukon all this time.

  • Agammamon||

    Yah, I mean what sort of heartless people would expect their local governments to fund recovery efforts for local disasters. Or talk with their neighboring states beforehand to make arrangements for disaster management support and post-disaster clean-up.
    I mean why shouldn't a state like my own Arizona (whose greatest potential for mass death is if the air conditioning fails) be on the hook to pay for completely forseeable events like southern CA having forest fires every year, or the Gulf Coast getting socked by tropical storms?
    Why would we ever want our governments to do the crap they're supposed to do? Then they'd never have time to ensure that we don't eat food with too much salt, smoke cigarettes, or drink sodas from too large containers.

  • Sevo||

    Alice Bowie| 11.4.12 @ 3:38PM |#
    "Let's do what the libertarians want and let the STATES fund and operate their own FEMA."

    This libertarian would prefer there be no FEMA or state-funded alternative.
    See OM below; it's called "insurance".

  • Lisa||

    It is amazing to me the idea that people have that being happy, healthy, and safe is a right. History has not reinforced that theory at all. Bad things happening is pretty normal.

  • tagtann||

    That makes no sense at all dude, Think about it.

    www.Anon-U.tk

  • Disgusted Dem||

    Has anybody done a study of how pre-1997 Hong Kong handled the natural disasters such as typhoons? You had a city state with an area and population that's similar to New York city. And before the handover back to the PRC, it had a small laissez-faire government. If a small government approach had led to prolonged chaos and misery every time Hong Kong was hit with a typhoon, people would have stopped doing business there long ago and it never would have become a major economic center in Asia.

  • Sevo||

    Somehow, Hong Kong is 'an outlier' to every lib I've ever spoken with.
    Exactly how it's and outlier is never made clear, other than it doesn't fit the narrative.

  • Disgusted Dem||

    It's not that Hong Kong is an outlier or that it doesn't fit the narrative. It's the example that refutes the hypothesis that only a large/activist government can bring prosperity to people of all classes or is necessary to deal with natural disasters.

    It's rather like saying the French are a paradox when it comes to weight. It's only a paradox to those who hold to weight management hypotheses which run counter to the way the French eat. Not too many years ago, I adopted a French attitude towards enjoying good food. I'm now back at my teenage weight and I actually find it difficult to put weight on.

  • BP Black||

    In a hard-hit corner of NYC called Gerritsen Beach, people exercised their freedom to stay put during the storm and it turned out badly in this case for many residents. Some people blamed the government for not designating the area as a flood zone. The local church's custodian and the chief of the volunteer firehouse organized a food and clothing relief effort in the school gym for the flood victims without power. My wife and son brought over food and clothes to the drive. I took part in a blood drive. A local doctor set up a temp office in the basement of the rectory. The local K of C also had a drive. There was quickly a surplus of supplies; the result was that supplies were directed elsewhere. Other than two city buses commandeered to shuttle supplies and people from the gym to the area, and a few cops to watch over the gym, I didn't see much too much governemnt or handwringing over people waiting for FEMA to spring into action. One can only imagine if the government ran the utilities how long it would take for the power to come back. It all reminded me of the story that Walt Frazier tells of the three types of players on the basketball court: the one that makes things happen, the one that watches what happens, and the one that says. "Wha' happened?"

    This was truly a model of action and it made me think of the talkers who mock Ron Paul when he speaks of local charities doing what government does. Stop snarking and start helping.

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