Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Ron Paul thinks the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) should be eliminated. He and his colleagues for the Republican presidential nomination are on the record promising to dismantle as much of Washington's power and, in particular, to eliminate every federal regulation possible. They claim the regulations kill jobs and are ineffectual and intrusive. Then along comes Irene. Irene arrived in the shadow of the 6th anniversary of Katrina. The response to these two hurricanes contrast dramatically and represent the different governing philosophies which will be on display in 2012 and the clear differences have serious ramifications for the future.

In 2001, President Bush, reflecting a similar regressive bent as the Paul/Bachman/Perry wing of his party, demoted the director of FEMA and downgraded the agency. He appointed "brownie" to run it and we all know the end of the story. President Clinton had raised the profile and efficiency of FEMA and received high marks for the government's response to emergencies. Bush tore it down because he listened to those who attack any agency or program originating in Washington. The people in New Orleans were given a real time opportunity to see how regressive philosophy affected their lives and homes.

We have watched a summer of historic natural disasters throughout our land. The flooding along the Mississippi, Red and Missouri rivers, tornadoes which cut a murderous swath across parts of the South and Midwest, unprecedented droughts in Oklahoma and Texas, wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico and more. Not once, during all of this carnage has anyone criticized the federal government's response. Contrast this with Katrina or contrast it with Japan. They are about to get a new prime minister because of the failure of the last one to adequately respond to the earthquake and tsunami, which so devastated that nation. More importantly, or maybe ironically, the same "" red " states which produce and support the Perry’s, Paul’s, McCain’s and Palin's are the same states who welcome billions of dollars of federal aid. The day after a tornado destroyed a good portion of Joplin, Missouri, FEMA was on the ground setting up centers and beginning the cleanup. (The biggest complaint at the time was the failure of the government to better warn people about dangerous tornadoes in a timely manner.) Along the Mississippi, it was the Corps of Engineers, implementing a plan developed in 1937 by the Roosevelt Administration, which blew a hold in a levy and opened spillways to divert hundreds of millions of gallons of water to farmland in order to protect states like Mississippi and Louisiana from being inundated. The Republican governors of those states certainly didn't complain about Washington interference at that point.

It is hard to stomach the hypocrisy. They want to run against Washington and proclaim how useless and oppressive federal regulations are, until some disaster happens and then they have their hands out and will scream bloody murder if they don't get every ounce of money available.

I know I sound like a broken record when I remind you about what de-regulation has done to this country. The list is endless. From the weakening and elimination of financial regulations leading to the Depression of 2008, to the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, to salmonella and E.coli outbreaks, the common denominator is weak or non-existent oversight. The deregulation of the energy market in California has California ratepayers paying some of the highest electricity rates in the nation for the foreseeable future. Anytime you hear someone advocating getting rid of regulations, they are usually toadies for the rich and the powerful businesses in the nation.

The latest target, according to the Wall Street Journal, is the Environmental Protection Agency. (EPA) It is the favorite whipping boy on the Republican stump these days. The same politicians who live and work near the Potomac, a river so polluted humans weren't allowed to swim in it or eat anything they caught out of it, and which has now been cleaned up almost back to its more pristine shape, all due to federal environmental regulations, are the same people demanding the agency by neutered out of existence. Do you really want to go back to an environment before the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act? Would you want to return to the days of lead paint and lead in your fuel? Today, energy companies are pumping toxic chemicals into the ground to free up natural gas. Do you want to trust them when they say there is no danger to the aquifer and water supplies? Do you trust P.G.& E. when they tell you Diablo Canyon is perfectly safe from a large earthquake? Why are Americans seduced by this anti-regulation rhetoric? Average, gum-chewing working Americans are the beneficiaries of regulations, which hold the avarice of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (the most evil organization in the nation) and its members in check. Moderates and independents should applaud the Obama Administration's attempts to beef up the EPA, SEC, National Labor Relations Board, and numerous other government agencies gutted by Bush and Cheney.

So, here is my proposal. President Obama cuts off federal aid to any state with a Republican governor or legislature. Perry and Paul say states are too dependent on the federal government. Ok, cut 'em off. Obama can justify this by claiming he is just following the will of the people and their leaders in those states. They won't get a dime of federal aid for roads, bridges, education, health care, law enforcement, unemployment or to help recover from disasters. No small business loans or disaster loans at low interest rates. Military and other government bases would be closed. The estimate is Irene did about $7 billion in damages. The federal government is prepared to pick up about 75% of the tab. Wouldn't you love to be in the executive mansions in Mississippi, Louisiana, Virginia, New Jersey and other red states when they receive the bill for services rendered?

PS Michele Bachman say the recent spate of natural disasters and the earth quake on the east coast were signs of God's disapproval of the moral climate in this country. She better hope she is wrong about God or she may be in for a very warm reception when they eventually meet. President Bachman...really?

Rick Perry says he wants to do for America what he has done for Texas. Houston is the most polluted city in the nation. The oil and gas industries are virtually unregulated by his state. Worker safety and environmental oversight are a joke. Imagine him and the damage he could do if he was in charge of the EPA, FDA, Agriculture Dept., Interior Dept, etc

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