FEMA: Welfare Masquerading as Disaster Relief

FEMA's head defends the agency's post-hurricane response by saying that emergency relief is not its job.

Hurricane Sandy hadn't even touched down when liberals started blowing kisses to FEMA, or Federal Emergency Management Agency, the federal disaster relief agency. A New York Times editorial declared that the impending storm proved that the country needs FEMA-style "Big Government" solutions more than ever. Salon, New Republic and other liberal outfits heartily agreed.

Why do liberals love FEMA so much? Certainly not for its glorious track record. Rather, FEMA has been a great vehicle for expanding the welfare state.

FEMA's tragic missteps after Katrina earned it well-deserved disgrace. The Times blames those on the Bush administration, whose anti-government philosophy supposedly gutted FEMA. President Obama, the argument goes, straightened things out, and Americans should now "feel lucky" that the agency is there for them. Without it, local and state authorities wouldn't be able to coordinate where "rescuers should go, where drinking water should be shipped, and how to assist hospitals that have to evacuate."

So how did the new and improved FEMA perform post-Sandy, a storm for which it had lots of advance warning? Not so well.

It didn't set up its first relief center until four days after Sandy hit -- only to run out of drinking water on the same day. It couldn't put sufficient boots on the ground to protect Queens residents from roving looters. The Red Cross -- on whom FEMA depends for delivering basic goods -- left Staten Island stranded for nearly a week, prompting borough President Jim Molinaro to fume that America was not a Third World country. But FEMA's most egregious gaffe was that it arranged for 24 million gallons of free gas for Sandy's victims, but most of them couldn't lay their hands on it.

But if you think FEMA's inability to provide rapid relief subverts the core reason for its existence, think again. A few days after the Times' valentine, FEMA head W. Craig Fugate told the newspaper that the agency's rapid response role is really a fallacy. "The general public assumes we are part of the response team that will be there the first couple of days," he said. But it is really designed to deal with disasters several days after the fact.

How does FEMA do that? By indiscriminately writing checks -- a task at which it evidently excels.

FEMA administrator Elizabeth Zimmerman testified before Congress last year that between 2005 and 2009, 14.5 percent of the agency's $10 billion-plus disaster aid budget was handed to people who didn't qualify. The agency tried to get 154,000 of these people to return the money (on average, each had received about $5,000), but they filed a class action lawsuit forcing FEMA to pay them a multimillion settlement. And it forgave the debt of every one with an income below $90,000.

Zimmerman claims that the agency has since cut overpayments to about 3 percent of distributed aid. But as the Heritage Foundation's Matt Mayer, a former Department of Homeland Security official who has written extensively about FEMA, notes: "I have no basis to believe that FEMA can put in place processes that would allow it to means-test or verify the eligibility of disaster victims."

The bigger problem is not with who gets FEMA money, but why. Less than a sixth of Alabama's $566 million allotment after Katrina financed legitimate government functions such as debris removal, repairing damaged infrastructure and restoring public utilities. The rest was all handouts: food stamps, subsidies for trailer homes and low-interest loans for small businesses.

The FEMA website is already advertising goodies for Sandy victims, including 26 weeks of unemployment benefits and up to $200,000 worth of low-interest loans for home repairs not covered by insurance. In addition, it wants to hand out $2 million loans to small businesses and nonprofits (of all sizes) experiencing "cash flow problems." Farmers and ranchers could likewise qualify for $500,000 in loans to cover production and property losses.

Anyone in Sandy's path can latch on to the FEMA teat. This is not disaster relief but disaster socialism. It is one thing for the government to provide emergency housing, health care and food; it is quite another to compensate victims for every loss. If people knocked down by a storm deserve such federal largesse, why not open the coffers to anyone who suffers a car crash, a death in the family or a broken heart?

The next four years won't be propitious for rethinking FEMA's role. But Republicans have to at least try -- or else become content with playing tax collectors for a welfare state that grows with every crisis.

Shikha Dalmia is a Reason Foundation senior analyst. This column originally appeared in the Washington Examiner.

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  • T o n y||

    legitimate government functions such as debris removal, repairing damaged infrastructure and restoring public utilities. The rest was all handouts: food stamps, subsidies for trailer homes and low-interest loans for small businesses.

    Care to explain the fundamental difference, other than "I can't make a good argument against the former, and I personally dislike the latter"?

  • KDN||

    Direct upkeep of the commons vs. looting the public treasury for political favors?

  • sarcasmic||

    Tony honestly believes that if you don't give someone to someone, you are actually stealing from them.
    He also believes that if you do not steal something from someone, you are actually presenting them with a gift.
    In Tony's world, inaction is action. Nothing is something. Darkness is light. There is mass in a vacuum. Cold is heat.

    You cannot explain anything to someone who is so fundamentally retarded that they make retards look like savants.

  • Belgian||

    Tony honestly believes that if you don't give someone to someone, you are actually stealing from them

    No he doesn't. Tony would never give anything of his own to anyone on his own volition. That's what government is for. The only thing Tony honestly believes is that the smug sanctimony he feels from calling libertarains selfish is actual morality.

  • T o n y||

    I don't call libertarians especially selfish. Everyone is selfish. Libertarians are just dumb. There's not a single government program or policy I favor that does not serve the purpose of improving people's individual lives and enhancing individuals' liberty. There is not a single thing I support that does not, in fact, benefit me directly. I appreciate that I could be the victim of bad luck some day and need a safety net. Libertarians just pretend otherwise, and suckle on the teat of government when the time comes anyway.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    There's not a single government program or policy I favor that does not serve the purpose of improving people's individual lives and enhancing individuals' liberty.


    The problem with this assertion is that it contains an unavoidble contradiction - government does not produce anything that can give away or trade for goods and services. That being the case, then in order to improve the lot of a number of individuals, like you describe, the government has to resort to depriving another set of individuals from their productive efforts, thus harming or damaging their lot. The end result cannot thus improve the lives of individuals (that is, as in all) or increase their liberty; you can only say that the policies can only improve the lot of a few individuals. The result cannot even be Pareto Efficient since government has to act in a damaging way against at least ONE individual in order to improve the lot of other individuals. That cannot improve individual life.

    There is not a single thing I support that does not, in fact, benefit me directly.


    That may be so but, like I showed above, it cannot benefit another person, it can only make her worse off. It would be callous from your part to say that you would only care about your benefit and not her loss.

  • T o n y||

    government does not produce anything that can give away or trade for goods and services.

    Irrelevant. Government is a tool whose function is to mobilize resources for collective purposes. It's the thing that acts on behalf, and is funded by, the people. If you're exceedingly lucky, it's constituted by free and fair elections.

    Pareto efficiency is not the same as "a socially desirable distribution of resources," and a free market can only be mathematically described as Pareto efficient if you assume no externalities, minimal transaction costs, perfect market equilibrium, and market participants having perfect information--in other words, it doesn't happen in a free market in the real world.

    It may harm the wealthy person to take some of his luxury in order to pay for the basic needs of the poor person. But that harm is negligible compared to the benefit gained. If you assume a robust market, the wealthy person could some day be poor and need the safety net, so it doesn't have to be thought of as a transfer from one person to another, but as a fee for a universal insurance program.

    I understand that you attempt to be consistent on the moral conundrum libertarians face (how do you justify using government to protect the luxuries of the rich but not the basic needs of the poor?) by waving your hand and saying anarchy will work just fine, but that's probably absurd on it's face.

  • Belgian||

    Jesus Christ, Tony, do you even understand what logic is? There is so much question-begging in this rambling, incoherent pile of smug condescension I don't even know where to start. Stop talking, go read something, maybe come back in a few years when you might actually be worth replying to.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Irrelevant. Government is a tool whose function is to mobilize resources for collective purposes.

    How can a definition - which is what you're giving, not an argument itself - has anything to do with the truth of the argument? What you said cannot obviate the fact that government produces nothing itself. There are clear economic consequences as a result of the government activities. You cannot deny The Law of Scarcity or the Law of Opportunity Cost.

    It's the thing that acts on behalf, and is funded by, the people.


    This is misleading, Tony. If government is funded by people then it follows the transaction is voluntary, but the fact that there exists an agent of extorsion and punishment is evidence that your contention cannot be correct.

    If you're exceedingly lucky, it's constituted by free and fair elections.


    Ok, now you're arguing that the morality or validity of a system depends on randomness?

    Pareto efficiency is not the same as "a socially desirable distribution of resources,"


    Of course not, because such thing as "socially desirable" is an oxymoron. Society is just the name we give to a group of persons, but only a person can have desires, as a desire is a manifestation of the mind.

  • OldMexican||

    and a free market can only be mathematically described as Pareto efficient if you assume no externalities, minimal transaction costs, perfect market equilibrium, and market participants having perfect information


    You're throwing around terms of which you have no intellectual grasp. A free market will always be Pareto Efficient because the transaction makes at least two people better off and the rest indiferent. When it comes to "externalities," you're really talking about production, which has NOTHING to do with markets: Soviet Russia was very productive when it came to tractors and trucks. That does not mean that the production is profitable, which can only be known after a market transaction. There's also a big problem with the concept of "externlity" because it is assumed that the market actors do not take these into account, as if the person pointing this out could presume to read minds.

    As for the other concepts, you have no clue what they entail or even if they are truly relevant. There can't be such a thing as perfect market equilibrium because markets are the result of people's decisions, and people are fickle. A theory that cannot describe reality is useless, but for the economists that stake their reputations on such theory, the response is that reality is wrong, and thus come up with normative policies based on the theory to achieve the equilibrium it describes!

  • sarcasmic||

    Tony would never give anything of his own to anyone on his own volition.

    Not him. You.
    He sees government as the protector of his private property, and the agent that gives him claim to the property of other people.
    He does not understand that the government must be one or the other, because those two roles contradict each other.

  • T o n y||

    No, what's contradictory is claiming that taxation is the impermissible taking of private property, but that government must protect private property via services paid for with taxation. That just means your premises are faulty.

  • sarcasmic||

    Theft is theft.

    It doesn't matter if the person doing it is a common criminal or an organization of men with the last word on violence.

    Morally there is no difference.

    Your premise, that an immoral act ceases to be immoral depending upon who does it, is faulty.

  • T o n y||

    And tautologies are tautologies. You have to define theft. There is no legal standard (anywhere that I'm aware of) that equates taxation with theft. Indeed you cannot have a legal definition of theft without taxation to pay for the legal system itself.

  • Belgian||

    Appeal to authority.

  • sarcasmic||

    There is no legal standard (anywhere that I'm aware of) that equates taxation with theft.

    I see. So if the people with the last word on violence decide that it's not theft when they take property without permission, then it isn't theft.

    Gotcha.

    Appeal to authority much?

  • Vapourwear||

    Common law larceny:

    The taking of the property of another with the intent to permanently deprive the true owner thereof.

    How the fuck do taxes NOT fit that definition?

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    And tautologies are tautologies. You have to define theft.


    It is already defined.

    There is no legal standard (anywhere that I'm aware of) that equates taxation with theft.


    You're begging the question again. "Taxation is legal because it is not illegal like theft." Only because an agent prefers to ignore the evil of an act through doublespeak does not mean the agent is the only one that gets to define the action.

    Indeed you cannot have a legal definition of theft without taxation to pay for the legal system itself.


    Now this is a tautology.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    No, what's contradictory is claiming that taxation is the impermissible taking of private property, but that government must protect private property via services paid for with taxation.


    But did sarcasmic make that argument? Because I will agree with you that you cannot argue against government's thievery if you believe that the role of government is to protect the very property from which it takes. But I didn't see that argument.

    Sarcasmic points out to the contradiction in the supposed role of government as protector of property rights when it violates those rights every day, supposedly to finance the protection.

  • T o n y||

    There is no contradiction if you simply correct the premise that taxation is a violation of property rights.

  • Belgian||

    Incoherent babbling.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    There is no contradiction if you simply correct the premise that taxation is a violation of property rights.

    I don't understand, what is there to correct? Taxation is the forceful taking of someone else's property. Thievery is the forceful taking of someone else's property. You cannot simply define something that is "A" as "B" to then say it is not "A."

  • T o n y||

    Taxation is not the forceful taking of someone else's property. It's the voluntary payment of the fee you owe to the Treasury by law. The same law that says which property is yours and which isn't.

  • Clano'6||

    It's not voluntary when you go to jail or have your wages garnished if you refuse to pay. Furthermore we do not get a say in how the taxes are spent and they are increasingly used to fund social programs which are not necessarily improving the common good.

  • Fluhdoten1||

    Donations are voluntary.

    Taxes are compulsory.

    Taxation is most definitely the forceful taking of property. Its done by threat of violence. Wesley Snipes is in prison, i guess he tried to call that bluff.

    apparently they are serious about using force if you dont comply.

    That most definitely does not fit the definition of voluntary.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I like how you can't even conceive that that second part shouldn't be in there.

    Like a dog at a new gate.

  • Belgian||

    Straw man

  • Bill Dalasio||

    ...if you don't give someone to someone....

    Your Freudian slip is noted. And entirely appropriate in discussing a slaver like Choney.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    That's just her misguided opinion that those are legitimate functions anyway.

  • H. Reardon||

    Are you arguing that there is absolutely no 'legitimate' role to be played by the feds regarding disaster relief?

  • sarcasmic||

    “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.”

    ― James Madison

  • H. Reardon||

    From Wiki (sorry, it's too easy to cite)

    As Jefferson’s Secretary of State (1801–1809), Madison supervised the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the nation’s size. After his election to the presidency, he presided over renewed prosperity for several years. As president (1809–17), after the failure of diplomatic protests and a trade embargo against Great Britain, he led the nation into the War of 1812. He was responding to British encroachments on American honor and rights; in addition, he wanted to end the influence of the British among their Indian allies, whose resistance blocked United States settlement in the Midwest around the Great Lakes. Madison found the war to be an administrative nightmare, as the United States had neither a strong army nor financial system; as a result, he afterward supported a stronger national government and a strong military, as well as the national bank, which he had long opposed.

    Yet Madison had no problem expending the money of constituents on the Louisana Purchase, an action not granted to the president by the Constitution. And reversed his position on the need for a strong central bank, for reasons of national defense (constitutionally justifiable).

  • sarcasmic||

    One of the first things Congress did after the founding of the nation was to pass the ridiculously unconstitutional Alien and Sedition Acts. Power corrupts. What's your point?

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    I think his point is that you can't use quotes from non-perfect people. And you can't be for small government if you have ever driven on a road. Somalia. You know the normal deep stuff that we haven't figured out a refutation for yet.

  • sarcasmic||

    I think his point is that you can't use quotes from non-perfect people.

    Ah yes. The classical ad-hominem approach. Like Ayn Rand's ideas were bunk because she couldn't shake that annoying accent. Got it.

  • H. Reardon||

    That anyone, like Madison or yourself, can spout out platitudes.

  • H. Reardon||

    And considering my handle, it's funny that you bring out Rand.

  • ||

    Considering your handle, it's funny you'd resort to such a rhetorical appeal. Isn't it Occutards and progressives who constantly remind us that we must dismiss all of Rand's politics and philosophy because she used Medicare in her old age?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I'm arguing that the ones listed are not.

  • H. Reardon||

    Repair of public infrastructure is not a function of the feds?

    ROADZ!!

  • Whiterun Guard||

    There were no roads before the government built them.

    You heard it here folks.

  • H. Reardon||

    The constitution granted the gov't the power of eminent domain for projects considered to be for the public good. It is understood that there were roads that were constructed without the government. Do you think that the construction of roads was not one of those governmental functions envisioned by the writers of the constitution?

  • Whiterun Guard||

    I have no idea if they thought roads were what they envisioned.

    They can be authorized by the constitution AND an illegitimate function of government, you know.

  • sarcasmic||

    Do you think that the construction of roads was not one of those governmental functions envisioned by the writers of the constitution?

    By the federal government? No. I don't think so at all. States? Sure. Feds? No.

  • ||

    You've got to shoot a pretty fucking enormous gap from eminent domain justifying the federal construction of roads to FEMA doling out absurd amounts of money to municipalities to deal with liabilities for which they have purposefully refused to prepare due to the moral hazard of massive federal handouts.

  • H. Reardon||

    Or are you making an anarchistic argument that any governmental action is unjustified?

  • Rick Santorum||

    You're delusional if you equate "restoring running water" to "handing out EBT cards."

  • T o n y||

    I'm not necessarily equating them, I'm just wondering what the libertarian justification is. Government always does things poorly, I thought.

  • Belgian||

    Yet another fail. Of course it would work out better if infrastructure was privately owned, but in the world we live in, the government owns the infrastructure and gets insanely, dog-killingly jealous if you try to make improvements to it.

  • Rick Santorum||

    I'm just wondering what the libertarian justification is.

    Shikha Dalmia is not much of a thinker, and libertarianism is stupid, so I can't answer that.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Care to explain the fundamental difference

    I understand your confusion. I am also confused by Shikha's assertion that there are "legitimate" government functions and "illegitimate" government functions. Considering the government has no productive capacity and, thus, cannot trade its own production for other goods or services from which to participate in any of those "functions" she alludes to, but rather has to resort to expropriation (i.e. theft) to do any of those things, then it follows that not one thing the government does can be really legitimate. Maybe Shikha is willing to state for the record that she believes thievery in the name of goodness is ipso facto moral and good itself. This is an absurdity: an evil act cannot become a good act only because the result is deemed good after the fact.

    So I understand why you're confused. I am with you, bro.

  • T o n y||

    an evil act cannot become a good act only because the result is deemed good after the fact.

    Sure it can, if we go by your definition of evil. This is kindergarten ethics. "It's OK to lie to a bad man." Jump to roughly college freshman level and you can easily make the case that it's OK to steal to save your own life or the life of your child.

    Of course government collecting taxes is not the same thing as theft, and it is in fact absurd to claim that it is (since theft is whatever the law, i.e., government, says it is, and enforces that law with services paid for by taxes).

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Sure it can, if we go by your definition of evil.


    What do you mean? What other definitions can there be apart from harm done to a human being?

    This is kindergarten ethics. "It's OK to lie to a bad man."


    I don't understand your argument - what do you mean by "bad man"?

    Jump to roughly college freshman level and you can easily make the case that it's OK to steal to save your own life or the life of your child.


    I have an MBA and I would never consider it ok to steal form someone to save me or my child.

    Of course government collecting taxes is not the same thing as theft,


    Then I don't understand why would you try to argue theft as a good act if it was irrelevant anyway. Makes me wonder about the trust you place in your aguments.

    and it is in fact absurd to claim that it is (since theft is whatever the law, i.e., government, says it is,


    Ok, now you're engaging in question-begging. It's not theft when the government does it because it is the government doing it.

  • T o n y||

    I would never consider it ok to steal form someone to save me or my child.

    Then you have a fucked up morality on your hands. Letting a child die (when you have the opportunity to prevent it) is a worse moral crime than stealing. Sometimes life offers us only bad options. Choosing the worse of two options is more moral how?

    It's not theft when the government does it because it is the government doing it.

    That's pretty close actually. The point is "theft" is not defined except by law. You can't have law without taxation. If you have no law, then you have no claim to property and thus the concept of theft is meaningless. Theft is whatever you or I say it is, and so is property. You can see how that might get messy.

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    The point is "theft" is not defined except by law

    bullshit

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    Then you have a fucked up morality on your hands. Letting a child die (when you have the opportunity to prevent it) is a worse moral crime than stealing.


    That sounds like an opinion based on results. Since I cannot presume to know the future, I then cannot presume to say that stealing from someone will help my child or me. A miracle can happen, or a good samaritan could help me, but I may reduce my chances of an encounter with a good samaritan if I am known as a thief.

    You base your ethical system on results which presumes the power of prescience. Unless you can prove such power, then your ethical system is flawed, it is entirely based on assumptions. Mine is based on deontology: There are things that are evil in themselves and should not be pursued, like stealing, killing, maiming or hurting.

    Sometimes life offers us only bad options.


    Again, that's opinion. It may be that your choices only seem limited because of your lack of imagination, but you cannot visit that problem on other people.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Tony,

    The point is "theft" is not defined except by law.


    And again, that's no different than saying "The Bible Said So." It is still question-begging.

    You can't have law without taxation.


    Why the hell not? You're equivocating: you're confusing law with enforcement agency.

    If you have no law, then you have no claim to property


    This is a non sequitur. You can have a claim on property even when there are no written law as property is axiomatic. For instance: You OWN your body. Don't you?

    and thus the concept of theft is meaningless.


    Again, you're equivocating and committing another question-begging fallacy. You do not need to know that theft is forbiden to know that theft is wrong. For instance: Do you like to be robbed? If not, then you have defined theft. It is not meaningless.

    Theft is whatever you or I say it is, and so is property.


    That's possible, considering the way you change the definition of words to suit your needs. But I do not need to make an agreement with you, I simply engage in protecting what is my property against your lose definition of thievery, and see who ends up 6 feet under.

    You can see how that might get messy.


    Yes, when it comes to people like you, I can see.

  • T o n y||

    You OWN your body. Don't you?

    I don't know. What does "own" mean? If I'm a chattel slave, someone else, by law, owns my body. And why is my claim better than theirs? They have the state on their side, and I have but airy-fairy declarations. Regardless of who's "right" in a cosmic sense (in fact there is no cosmic arbiter), isn't what matters who is right in the real world?

    I simply engage in protecting what is my property against your lose definition of thievery, and see who ends up 6 feet under.

    Yeah this is why anarchy was long ago considered a bad idea and was replaced by statism. What you're saying is that if I win in a gun battle, the property is mine by right. There are only guns here. There are no angels on your shoulders. Do you really think shootouts are the most efficient way of handling property claims?

  • T o n y||

    One can assume that a starving child needs food without needing a crystal ball. The moral calculation is beside the point anyway--the fact is you would sooner steal than starve, no matter what you proclaim from the comfort of your home right this moment. Understanding basic human incentives would seem to be relevant to a discussion on how society should function.

    Mine is based on deontology

    Yeah, I got that. It's my humble opinion that God-says-so moral absolutism is perhaps a bit outdated as a moral system.

  • ||

    What sort of society would you rather live in? One where you own your body, or one where it belongs to the state?

  • ||

    It's my humble opinion that God-says-so moral absolutism is perhaps a bit outdated as a moral system.

    But Government-says-so moral absolutism is hip and with it.

    You are so irredeemably fucking stupid it's breathtaking.

  • Bill||

    I find it just amazing that whenever there is a Republican in office, that FEMA or whatever the hell they called it pre-FEMA does a bad job because they gutted it and because they are heartless fatcats (and mean).

    But then by some miracle, a few years later (or earlier if they reflect back) when a Democrat was in office, it was the best things since sliced bread.

    I really don't like either party that much but the built in bias in the MSM is kind of ridiculous. I know that there are a few that are biased the other way but I would rather have reporters and analysts that actually are competent, than a bunch of sycophants for one party or the other.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    debris removal from government roads, repairing damaged government infrastructure and restoring public government-granted monopoly utilities.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    He doesn't even pretend to try any more.

  • sarcasmic||

    He sees no difference between paying a policeman to do his job, and paying a layabout to lay about.

    Money was taken by the government from one person and given to another.

    In his mind there is absolutely no difference between government performing its duties, and government simply transferring wealth from one person to another for the purpose of transferring money from one person to another.

    They are the same.

    Nothing can convince him otherwise.

    He is that stupid.

  • Rick Santorum||

    Welfare is just the government paying people to continue to have children. That's their duty: to generate more Democrats taxpayers.

  • T o n y||

    They aren't necessarily the same, but there are, in fact, public-good justifications for welfare and food subsidies. And I don't see why the magical marketplace can't clean up hurricane debris. It can do practically everything else better than government, or so I'm told.

  • Brian D||

    It sure did a better job of getting food and other supplies to New Orleans after Katrina than the government did. It would have done a better job of getting gasoline to NY/NJ recently if the state and local governments didn't impose price controls to eliminate the motivation for the free market to deliver said gasoline.

  • H. Reardon||

    In his mind there is absolutely no difference between government performing its duties, and government simply transferring wealth from one person to another

    Jesus, sarc, I make nearly the same argument above, and you come at me with some Madison quote. I'm beginning to think that you just like to see your typed words on the computer screen. Perhaps I should go back to lurking.

  • Loki||

    Everyone repeat after me:

    It's. A. Fucking. Sock. Puppet. Troll.

  • ||

    You can tell them a thousand times, and they will still respond to it.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    But we'll surely learn after 2,000 times, so keep trying!

  • ||

    The dumbest thing I saw heppen was the free gasoline.
    At a time when there was a gas shortage due to laws against "price gouging", long lines and people selling black market gasoline for $15/gallon on craigslist, the government decides to hand out some free gasoline.

    And then they are shocked, SHOCKED that hordes of people show up and almost start a riot.

    Retards.

  • Belgian||

    You really think they were shocked? I think they wanted the riot, as an excuse to impose stricter controls.

  • ||

    I think they honestly believe that handing out free shit is a good way to relieve a shortage of said free shit.

    Which just displays their utter ignorance and disregard of common economic incentives.

    This goes along with believing that "preventive care" should be provided with zero co-pays and no deductible.

    They think that making something free won't cause people to overuse it thus making it more scarce. They think that if they give away free gasoline, that the people who show up to collect it will all be people who need it who will collect only what they need. Not black market operators trying to resell it.

    I think they are honestly that stupid. They really don't understand how human being respond to incentives. They really are incapable of recognizing the effect of their actions on normal market forces.

  • H. Reardon||

    A few days after the Times' valentine, FEMA head W. Craig Fugate told the newspaper that the agency's rapid response role is really a fallacy. "The general public assumes we are part of the response team that will be there the first couple of days," he said. But it is really designed to deal with disasters several days after the fact.

    The exact argument that was proffered during Katrina, for which FEMA and G.W.B. were excoriated for FEMA's inability to be first responders.

    A proper role of FEMA would be to assist states in disaster preparedness and write checks to private contractors to provide disaster relief like deliver gas, food and generators. I know that there are hundreds of unused diesel generators and tanker trucks that are owned by heavy/highway contractors that could be put to good use if leased by the feds. A lot of owners would feel it their patriotic duty to provide these services at cost.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    You're doin' a helluva job, Fugie!

  • $park¥||

    Hey, did you guys hear that Hostess is closing because of the union workers strike?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Yeah, what a collosal clusterfuck that is. The company is in Chapter 11. They offered the unions a deal where they get a quarter of the company, board seats and $200 million in bonds in exchange for a pension contribution holiday, a pay cut of 8% for one year that would slowly be whittled down to 4% over five years and an increase in employee contributions to health insurace to 17%. The company was already in bankruptcy. This was part of what they'd have to do to ever emerge. All in all it was a really good deal. The Teamsters, THE FRIGGING TEAMSTERS, went along with it. The Bakers' union decided they wanted something better. Now, they're going to have to go into liquidation and all 18,000 employees are laid off. Frankly, I wish the CEO would take the liberty of forwarding the home address of the Bakers' union's leadership to the Teamsters.

  • Vapourwear||

    Never underestimate the ability of unions to cut of their noses....

  • OldMexican||

    The FEMA website is already advertising goodies for Sandy victims, including 26 weeks of unemployment benefits and up to $200,000 worth of low-interest loans for home repairs not covered by insurance.

    It's a good thing the country has so much wealth to spread around. It's not like the government has to resort to borrowing or inflation to pay for those things!

    Right?

  • Chris Mallory||

    India is calling Dalmia, head back home where you belong.

  • Coach Panto||

    Nancy Pelosi's speeches caused my erectile dysfunction, does that qualify for FEMA aid?

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    TONY the reincarnation of the Nazi Concentration Camp guard is in rare form on this thread. MARCH!

  • PapayaSF||

    Some of M o n o T o n y ' s many ideological problems:

    1: If government intends to do something good, by definition that is good. Never mind if it works efficiently, or works at all, or causes some unintended consequence: good intentions trump all.

    2: Centralization is good. It's easy for M o n o T o n y to imagine a government bureaucracy doing something good, but it's hard for him to imagine large numbers of people in various forms of self-organization doing something good, especially about something like a disaster. The idea that volunteers and state and local governments could handle a disaster is incomprehensible to him. Never mind that the free market manages to make and provide an endless list of commodities without government guidance.

    3. Profit is anathema. If people rush to a disaster zone with supplies priced "unfairly high," that is bad, even if it ends shortages. Better to have people who care nothing about making money or efficiency to arrive at their own pace and give stuff away free, because "free" gasoline or bottled water, even if it never shows up or lasts, is morally superior. The fact that this doesn't work as well, rewards recipients who are scammers, is paid for with tax money whose extraction suppresses the economy and makes everyone a bit poorer, is all irrelevant. At least no one is making evil profit... as long as you don't count high-paid but ineffective government bureaucrats.

  • PapayaSF||

    [Cont.] And so the positive feedback (the bad kind) of statism/progressivism continues: government fails or makes problems worse, which to M o n o T o n y only proves the need for more government. Rinse and repeat until national collapse, then blame it on the greedy rich or recalcitrant believers in liberty or bad luck.

  • SukieTawdry||

    I had to cancel a trip to NJ because of Sandy and the airlines (which still has my money) will charge a $150 penalty when I re-book. Who do I see about getting some relief? Furthermore, I was traveling with the family of a dear friend whose ashes we were putting to rest. Our party of 10 was to join up with literally hundreds of east coast friends and family and we, of course, had to cancel our extensive plans which was very upsetting to us all. I think we should be compensated for our emotional distress, don't you?

  • joey89924||

    only a person can have desires, as a desire is a manifestation of the mind.

    http://www.hqew.net/product-da.....Sheet.html

  • شات عراقنا||

    very nice

  • دردشة عراقنا||

    Nicest chat and chat Iraqi entertaining Adject all over the world

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