Natural Disasters

A Reason Reading List on Hurricane-Related Public Policy

To the shock of no one, commentators are dipping their presidential politics into our historic hurricane.

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To the shock of no one, commentators are dipping their presidential politics into our historic hurricane. "Whenever there's a major natural disaster, the federal government steps in to help," writes Slate's Matthew Yglesias. "But that wouldn't necessarily be the case if Mitt Romney got his way." David Frum rises to Romney's qualified defense.

It is obviously beyond the pale to speak skeptically about the federal government's role in post-hurricane cleanup and rebuilding, so instead let's link to past Reason articles that speak skeptically about the federal government's role in post-hurricane cleanup and rebuilding! A partial reading list, in chronological order:

This is a 10-minute walk from where I sit, BTW

* "Disastrous Relief," by Jacob Sullum, January 1990

* "Reaping the Whirlwind: Hurricane Andrew was a godsend for Politicians. The last thing they want is a premature recovery," by Glenn Garvin, January 1993

* "Gouge Away: Hurricanes and the politics of prices," by John Hood, December 1996

* "Confessions of a Welfare Queen: ," by John Stossel, March 2004

* "After the Storm: Hurricane Katrina and the failure of public policy," by Jacob Sullum, Jesse Walker, Ronald Bailey, Kerry Howley, Jeff Taylor & David B. Kopel; December 2005

* "Another Example of Government Failure: Coastal Living," by Ronald Bailey, September 2008

* "Disaster Utopianism: Looking for paradise in catastrophic places," by Jesse Walker, May 2010

* "Congress Votes to Continue Flood Insurance Folly," by Ronald Bailey, July 2011

* "After the Storm: How Joplin, Missouri, rebuilt following a devastating tornado by circumventing bureaucracy," by Tate Watkins, August 2012

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  1. HMS Bounty is sunk.
    http://fox4kc.com/2012/10/29/c…..ound-them/

    1. I saw that. Whose dumbass idea was it to sail a replica sailing ship into a fooking hurricane? It sounds like the Captain showed poor judgement…

      1. +2 scoops of strawberry ice cream

        1. -2 ball bearings.

          1. +1015 breadfruit trees?

      2. They were probably trying to get out into the open sea and didn’t leave port in time to get out east of the storm. The report I heard was that they had also lost power.

        One of the worst places to have your boat if a hurricane hits is tied up at the dock when the high waves and/or storm surge comes.

        1. Actually, after checking, I find my assumption was wrong.

          Tracie Simonin, director of the HMS Bounty Organization, said that the ship left Connecticut last week bound for Florida and was in contact with the National Hurricane Center as it tried to skirt the massive storm barreling up the East Coast.

          Looks like they were just dumbasses.

        2. “One of the worst places to have your boat if a hurricane hits is tied up at the dock when the high waves and/or storm surge comes.”

          Yeah but if you’re on the crew, port is the best place to sink, preferably while you watch from your room at the Waterfront Ramada.

      3. Gilligan!

      4. The crew should have mutinied or something.

    2. Wow, that ship was anchored less than 2 miles from my house this summer

      1. Centuries from now archeologists will wonder what an eighteenth century sailing vessel is doing on the bottom of the atlantic with 21st century laptops.

        1. The answer is time machines.

        2. It wouldn’t be just the laptops.

          The diesel engine will be puzzling as well.

        3. The aliens provided them. Just like the antique-chimera mechanism on that Greek ship from 10,000 years ago BC.

  2. “It’s for your own good. Now get the fuck off the boardwalk or I’ll beat the shit out of you and throw you in a cage.”

  3. “Whenever there’s a major natural disaster, the federal government steps in to help,” writes Slate’s Matthew Yglesias. “But that wouldn’t necessarily be the case if Mitt Romney got his way.”

    If the left is going to keep accusing Romney of being a libertarian anyway, then maybe he should just go ahead and become one.

    1. Well we libertarians certainly wouldn’t
      be subsidizing flood insurance for rich folks who build seaside homes on barrier islands (even if they wear monocles and top hats).

      1. Yeah, flood insurance is one thing.

        And sending in government agencies to rescue homeless hurricane victims and help them survive after a devastating hurricane is just about the very last thing this libertarian is complaining about in the budget.

        We could get rid of an awful lot of government without ever touching emergency hurricane response.

        1. Agreed. It might even exist in libertopia, you would just get an invoice after being rescued.

      2. I say, old fellow, did you hear about Perkins? The fool built himself a seaside home on a barrier island. I sure hope he has the money to rebuild it!

        *twirls cane while adjusting monocle*

    2. Building homes on barrier islands, in flood plains, on fire swept ridges. Good grief.
      I want to build my next house on a train track, is there a government agency that can help me with that?

      1. If I can find a way to get you fuckers to subsidize my Fortress of Solitude at the Mountains of Madness, it’s so on. But noooo, you’ll subsidize beachfront homes instead.

        Bastards.

        1. If you could just come up with an EPA acceptable Old Ones extermination, er, control program, you’d be in line for your subsidy check.

    3. I saw some lady on CNN remarking with alarm that Mitt Romney had talked about abolishing FEMA during the 2004 Republican primaries. Then she said “how can he say that NOW, with the certain doom of mega-perfect-hybrid-super storm Sandy about to rain down death and destruction on all of us?”, or something like that, even though A) Romney’s not saying it now, and B) he never meant it anyway.

  4. Let’s not forget that all the destruction this hurricane will cause means Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! rebuilding. It’s a shame we have to wait for hurricanes to get this kind of recovery!

    1. It’s not the “broken window fallacy” if the window gets broken in a storm.

      1. Holy fuck you’re stupid. I mean, weapons grade stupid. Are you really this stupid? Please tell me you’re hamming it up for lulz.

        1. I think he really is this stupid.

          BTW, EPi, did you know they closed all the schools here in MA?

          It’s created a bit of a mess. Lots of parents trying to cope with having to take unplanned vacation days, coupled with lots of very happy salaried teachers.

          Don’t know about the feelings of the hourly guys/substitute teachers though.

          1. I’m betting they’ll be closed tomorrow too. The “worst” part of the storm is supposedly going to hit us tonight.

          2. My parents have a generator, so they should be fine, and they’re not substitute teachers, so they’re not losers.

            1. Are they moving you out of the basement in case the water starts coming in?

              1. No, I suck up the water into my enormous head as a service to them. I’m like a living sump pump.

                1. Gives a whole new meaning to the insult ‘waterhead’, I s’pose.

          3. My folks are stuck in DC until Wednesday. I sent my dad a zombie preparedness guide.

      2. Holy hell. You really are this dumb, huh Derprider?

        1. You know, he may have a point.

          The economic outcome is totally different when the stone that breaks a window was carried by the wind compared to when it was flung by the hand of an urchin.

          1. Well, you can sue an urchin’s caretakers. Suing Mother Nature has proven to be problematic, but not for lack of trying.

      3. Hey joe, why don’t you explain to us how the broken window fallacy perpetuates the male gaze?

        1. Yes, please derpsplain it to us, derprider.

          1. Actually, I would like him to explain 1) how he had never heard of the “lie back and think of England” thing before, and 2) why he automatically thought it was about rape. Does joe feel guilty for his rape fantasies, you think?

            1. Wouldn’t you feel guilty in you had Queen Victoria rape fantasies?

              God knows I …er, never mind.

  5. we libertarians certainly wouldn’t be subsidizing flood insurance for rich folks who build seaside homes on barrier islands

    No shit. At some point this morning, there was a clip of some “weatherman” on a beach, and behind him was a row of expensive vacation homes with the waves lapping at their front steps, and the first thing I thought of was, “When this is over, those house will get repaired or rebuilt AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE.”

    It’s too bad we can’t expect Mittens to say, “Tough luck, build in a safer place, next time” when they come hat in hand looking to get rescued from the consequences of their bad decisions.

    1. “When this is over, those house will get repaired or rebuilt AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE.”

      Yep. Mine too. Though mine is on the Chesapeake Bay, which means the storm effects are usually much diminished compared to the Atlantic.

  6. I want to build my next house on a train track, is there a government agency that can help me with that?

    Yes, but you’ll have to live in California.

  7. FEMA writes checks. That’s their function. And they’re not even very good at that.

    Local response is what you want in a time of disaster. As local as possible. The entity that will know best your needs and how to efficiently work with you to fulfill them is the one closest to you. Why people pine for the feds to step in is beyond me. (Except when you’ve hired incompetent local first responders, of course.)

    Mitt Romney is going to rush to show he cares by shoveling tax dollars at disaster areas just like any other politician. And hey, FEMA and its checks are a broken glass economic utopia waiting to happen.

    1. Why would I want local response when the federal government has all this FREE MONEY available.

    2. That’s definitely the Gulf Coast’s lesson from 2004-2006. Its great to have people coming behind you from the Feds, but they’re a week away and your shit is fucked today. Having a coordinated local and state response makes things so much better.

      1. Actually, Florida learned it after Andrew.

        Remember the chick that was supposed to be in charge of the emergency response that jumped on the chair and screamed “where’s the cavalry” and caused all the furor about how FEMA was fucked up.

        What actually happened was that Dade County quietly fired her a few months later when the publicity had died down. It didn’t get big press but every Director of Emergency Services in every county in the state got the message that they were the “cavalry” and they were the ones who were supposed to be on the job getting prepared before the storm and helping cleanup afterwards.

        1. Since then, while Florida might have gotten plenty of FEMA money after the fact, all the upfront work, setting up shelters, organizing evacuations, hiring cleanup crews etc, was excecuted by local county departments and the local Red Cross.

          In fact the only thing that Florida has totally fucked up has been its insurance regulation which for too long held insurance premiums down in the face of evidence that huge losses were goin to happen as we ended the relatively storm free seventies and eighties and returned to a more historical hurricane cycle.

  8. The local grocery stores around here have had all their “hurricane preparation” kits all right out front for the past week. I’m still tempted to find a manager and berate him/her for profiteering during this time of crisis. For the laughs. I don’t think they’d get it though so I keep those thoughts to myself.

  9. If we lose power, I’ll just laugh and roll out my generator. But will my laughter change to cries of anguish when the fuel lines crack open from gubmint mandated ethanol in the mix?

    1. But will my laughter change to cries of anguish when the fuel lines crack open from gubmint mandated ethanol in the mix?

      One word – Diesel.

      1. I got the generator for free from a guy with a McMansion who told me it never worked from the day he bought it.
        Turns out he never put any oil in it and it has an oil sensor that won’t let it start without oil. Worse, there’s a sticker that tells you this on the side of the thing, nevermind the manual.

        1. You cannot beat that price. I was not being snarky about the diesel. We have a whole house generator powered by it.

          Reading is hard.
          /Powerplant Barbie

  10. Turns out he never put any oil in it and it has an oil sensor that won’t let it start without oil.

    So, with any luck, the crankshaft is not blue?

  11. “This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow, and our planet began to heal.”

    1. If only we could convince politicians their hot air contributes to global climate change. Their enviro nut followers might encourage them to shut the hell up.

  12. Kudos Bloomberg,

    More worry about soda pop than preparing your city for Frankenstorm, especially since your party ignores global warming, certainly the cause of this storm.

    If you are irony deficient, please take your irony pills.

    But really, adaptation might hopefully be the future. At least in the short run. We haven’t seen much of that have we?

    Instead we’ve seen a long game based on carbon with no short term planning in the meantime.

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