“We should be like 1900; we should be like 1940, 1950, 1960. I live on the Gulf Coast; we deal with hurricanes all the time. Galveston is in my district.”There’s no magic about FEMA. They’re a great contribution to deficit financing and quite frankly they don’t have a penny in the bank. We should be coordinated but coordinated voluntarily with the states. A state can decide. We don’t need somebody in Washington.”In making his statement, Paul conveniently left out the tiny detail that a documented 6,000 people died in the Galveston storm in 1900 and approximately another 2,000 disappeared off the face of the earth, probably swept out to sea. He also ignored the fact that during natural disasters, local governments are often crippled and state governments stretched beyond their capability to take control. The critical omission from his assertion was when he said that Galveston built the seawall (implying all by itself) when a good portion of the wall was actually built by the US Army Corps of Engineers. Last time I checked, the Corps is a federal government agency. Conservative House Majority Leader Eric Cantor made similarly bewildering comments after the Virginia earthquake earlier this week, declaring that government response to that event would only occur if corresponding cuts were made in other spending. These guys don’t seem to comprehend that the time for ideological rhetoric and threats of spending cuts is not when our citizens are being threatened by disasters beyond their control. The real tragedy here is that the ones who almost always suffer the most in natural disasters are those who can least afford it: the working poor and the middle class. As costs have skyrocketed the last 20 years, many of those in these socioeconomic classes have had to give up or cut property insurance and health insurance. Without out those essential safety nets, invariably all of the burden to rebuild their personal lives would fall totally to them. These disasters are an opportunity to bring into clear focus the real issue that lays before us. That issue is about the role of government. Many anti-government forces have successfully staked out territory that asserts that the “free market” cures all ills, which it doesn’t. They declare that the government can’t do anything right (except for winning 2 World Wars and going to the Moon in less than 10 years), and that it should be shrunk down to the size that it can be “drowned in the bathtub“. These same ideologues take hundreds of millions of dollars in donations from those they help, while voting against their own constituents. We need to decide who we are as a society. Unlike the ideologues, I don’t believe that the government is some “Other” run by enemies of freedom as they so often like to declare; I do believe that the government is us, and that’s its destruction is the real threat to freedom. Because I believe that, I also believe that, as a society, we have an obligation to work for the common good. We need to provide not only for those who need help, like storm victims and the sick, but also to create an environment where everyone has the opportunity for a decent standard of living and the safety net of healthcare and Social Security. We are the richest nation in the world (if we don’t move all the wealth to China) and can certainly meet these basic goals. But, we can only do that if we hold our leaders responsible. We have allowed our system of government to devolve into a continuous cycle of election and re-election, where our representatives are focused only on the money it takes to get them re-elected, and doing the bidding of those who give the money. We can hold them accountable, though, and it’s high time that we do that. Reposted from The Huffington Post, where you can comment on the original.
|Bob Cavnar is the author of Disaster on the Horizon.|
Bob Cavnar is a 30-year veteran of the oil and gas industry with deep experience in operations, start-ups, turn-arounds, and management of both public and private companies. He was most recently President and Chief Executive Officer of Milagro Exploration, a large, privately held oil and gas exploration firm based in Houston, Texas with operations along the Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi Gulf Coasts, and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. Cavnar holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Southern Methodist University and completed the Program for Management Development at the Harvard Business School. He blogs at dailyhurricane.com.