Thursday 08 Dec 2016

Government Mistake
AJ Robinson

Recent events have pointed out yet another area where government is sticking its nose into a place where it has no business being. I refer to Hurricane Irene. I live in Florida; we deal with hurricanes every year.

We were lucky this time. Irene passed us by. She did get me thinking, though, about the history of hurricanes and, especially, how the government deals with such events.

Just over 100 years ago, a hurricane, estimated as a category 4, hit Galveston, Texas. On a scale of 1-to-5, Andrew was a five and Katrina a four. The death toll, in Galveston, was anywhere from six to twelve thousand.

On 8 September 1900, when a hurricane hit Galveston, there was no FEMA, no National Hurricane Center. As Ron Paul pointed out, the people did not need those agencies. After all, Galveston re-built, it is today a thriving community; that’s confirmation those agencies are not needed.

It’s not as if having FEMA or such agencies would have changed anything; the city still would have suffered. Of course, the loss of life might be less, but is it really the business of government to be concerned with that issue?

In addition, the Tea Baggers are adamant that the US Federal Government should not engage in any activity not outlined in the Constitution. Logically, the government made a big mistake by creating the National Hurricane Center back in the 1950s. The center was to study hurricanes, track them, try to predict where they’d go and name each one. As a bit of trivia, they used to get women’s names, but now they alternate between male and female, which is much more PC, don’t you know.

Today, discovering hurricanes, with radar and satellites, and computer programs, long before they’re dangerous is typical. Tracking and monitoring hurricanes leads to early alerts about potential danger. Knowing when a hurricane will likely make landfall helps millions avoid danger.

As a result, the death toll for recent storms, despite the fact coastal populations are much higher these days, is quite low. Early estimates of the death toll from Irene are under 100. In Galveston, in 1900, the death toll was in the thousands.

Still, none of that is important. Remember, we’re talking about what the Constitution says and it does not mention hurricanes, disasters or any sort of preparation or recovery operations. Part of the slashing of the government budget and programs must include ending the National Hurricane Center. I’m sure every Tea Bagger in Florida will join me in this call.

After all, is it fair to ask people in Wyoming, Colorado and other states that never have hurricanes to see their hard-earned taxes go to pay for something as silly as the center? No, if people in Florida, the Gulf Coast States and the East Coast want a hurricane center, then it needs to be a Regional Hurricane Center. Let those states chip in and pay for it.

If people in those same areas want some sort of Regional Emergency Management Agency, there’s no problem. Let them set up REMA and abolish FEMA. For that matter, we could privatize FEMA. That way, people who want to be completely independent would not have to pay for such a silly agency; they can deal with any disaster on their own. For others, they can just pay any annual fee, like an insurance policy, to a company that would deal with clean up, rescue operations, re-building infrastructure, and so on.

As a further point, the Constitution doesn't cover highways either, so why should the Federal Government bother with roads and bridges. Let the states take care of them. After all, why should we continue to pay for a bunch of government mistakes?

Of course, the fact that the Federal Government spreads the cost across everyone does make it cheaper. If the states have to pay for all this, the taxes of people living in those states will go way up. Who cares, right? It’s not as if any of us live in any of those states. Besides, we’re talking about strictly adhering to the Constitution here, and that’s the only thing important, right?

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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