Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Wind of Change

One of the reasons why the utter devastation caused by, say, the Joplin tornado doesn't often sink in at a visceral level is ironically because these storms do so much damage that it's almost impossible to imagine what the affected areas looked like in the hours leading up to them. It's simply unimaginable that the barren wasteland you're now seeing on TV was once a thriving neighborhood or town; our minds can't comprehend that level of destruction. Maybe that's why the above before-and-after image is so jarring. Any of us could have lived in this comfortable middle-class area -- the one that's now nothing but a memory. As usual, if there's anything you can do to help please give to the Red Cross.

Also, I really do hate to bring politics into this but I was looking for a way to mention a recent series of interviews and the Missouri tornado hands it not just to me but all of us -- because it matters to all of us -- on a silver platter. A couple of weeks ago, during a two- or three-day press tour that came off like a greatest hits of sociopathic Randian objectivism, Doctor Ron Paul spouted a whole litany of predictably terrible ideas cast as nuggets of libertarian wisdom, all of which confirmed his role as the mayor of the fringe right. What struck me the most, though, was this statement -- made during an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer -- in which Paul said he'd abolish FEMA because, well, it's big government, and in case you haven't been paying attention, "Big government bad, take away freedoms. Argh! Paul smash!"

"Well, if you want to live in a free society, if you want to pay attention to the constitution, why not (abolish FEMA)? I think it’s bad economics. I think it’s bad morality. And it’s bad constitutional law. Why should people like myself, who had, not too long ago, a house on the Gulf Coast and it’s –- it’s expensive there and it’s risky and it’s dangerous. Why should somebody from the central part of the United States rebuild my house? Why shouldn’t I have to buy my own insurance and protect about the potential dangers? I mean it’s –- it’s a moral hazard to say that government is always going to take care of us when we do dumb things. I’m trying to get people to not to dumb things. Besides, it’s not authorized in the constitution."

The irony is almost too delicious that a couple of days after he made this asinine argument, thousands of people living in the ostensibly safe "central part of the United States" saw their lives wiped-clean and are now in desperate need of help. But hey, screw them, right? They chose to live in an area that can be hit by tornadoes so why should I have to pay for their colossal fuck-up? Suck it, you needy parasites.

It's really staggering when you think that this is the direction in which the center of the Republican party is being forced to move in 2011: toward not caring one bit about the citizens of this country as a mission statement.

(Adding: Oh yeah, then there's this.)


classic said...

Notice, however, that you suggest your readers donate to the Red Cross, and NOT to FEMA. Which is more helpful? Which is more cost effective and economically viable?

Chez said...

Oh, you got me there! Except that you didn't, but nice try. FEMA is more helpful because its assistance is guaranteed by the government -- and say what you will, there are times when the full faith and credit of the federal government of the United States is the most powerful entity there is simply because its assistance isn't subject to the whims of those who choose or choose not to donate. Admittedly, you're already donating to FEMA -- but what you get back from it when you or your fellow Americans need help is invaluable. Now, if you want to work toward making FEMA or any other federal agency more efficient, that I'm all ears about -- but to summarily abolish it because it's unconstitutional is ludicrous. As for giving to the Red Cross -- yes, it's a private institution and one that helps tremendously, but it simply can't be counted on to be the only assistance in a time of need.

Anonymous said...

And add in the Republican's attempt to partially defund the NOAA tornado monitoring to the grim list.

Not to mention of course the vilification of the climate scientists who have been sounding the alarm for years on the coming age of extreme weather. Harold Camping has been given more respect in the Republican base. But I'm sure the winter blizzards, Spring floods, tornados and new dustbowl are all just coincidence. My guess would be that 27% would accept that it's God's punishment for gay rights before they would admit to any other damning pattern.

The Bacon said...

I may disagree with Paul, but I see where he's coming from. I don't think he's all that far off the plantation.

I live in St. Louis and know people in Joplin, so I'm following pretty closely. The State of Missouri is doing a fantastic job down there. Governor Nixon is down there running show. He's issuing executive orders giving stay from state regs that are getting in the way. The national guard is out there. Those religious people you think are so stupid and worthless are feeding and clothing the people. Cities from across the state have sent EMS and police officers down to assist.

Point being that the State, meaning it's government and it's people, has taken the it should be. We take care of our own around here.

Furthermore, while I do think that the Federal government should help in natural disasters, I think its role should be limited to things like emergency food, shelter and medicine, and rebuilding public utilities, institutions and infrastructure. It shouldn't be out there rebuilding homes and businesses that chose not to carry insurance against an easily foreseeable threat. And it certainly shouldn't pull a post Katrina and randomly hand out thousands of dollars to everyone it sees with zero accountability.

The Bacon said...

Two other points I wanted to make.

While I think the president is handling the situation exactly as he should, just imagine if it had been Cairo, Illinois instead of Joplin Missouri and President Bush was in office. The race hustlers would be out in full force with most of the left egging them on.

Also, there is a lot of room between believing the Federal government should come in and handle everything and believing the people should just go fuck themselves. It's a little more nuanced than that.

..geesh...I don't know why this post has made me so grumpy today.

Chez said...

And where exactly do you think the money comes from to assist with all of the state's needs in the wake of a disaster? How often do you hear a governor say, "You know what, sure the wrath of God has just returned a good portion of a city in our great state to the stone age, but we're cool here -- we don't need federal money"? Let me answer that for you with an amusing little blast from the very recent past: Texas Governor Rick Perry, who's done nothing but screech about government interference and who implied that his state full of dumb-shits should consider seceding from the union, is whining out loud about how the feds are ignoring his plea for more money to fight wildfires.

Chez said...

And it made you grumpy because you consistently side with the right when it comes to politics.

Marsupialus said...

The comments thread boggles the mind. An organization like FEMA is exactly what government was created for, to nearly quote Lincoln: To do for those who can't do for themselves. A force majeur event occurs and some of you want to stand in the way of additional aid because it's the Federal government? How very Christian. Man, the fucking Republican party can't sink fast enough.

The Bacon said...


Besides being a little close to the situation, it makes me grumpy when people look at tragedy and suffering and then try to score political points with it.

Chez said...

That's a bullshit argument people always make when the reality happens to be inconvenient to their personal political beliefs. No one's trying to score political point; I'm simply pointing out the incredibly obvious. If not now, when the true nature of the situation is so readily on display, then when?

Anonymous said...

When one points out the political priorities or decisions that may have caused a tragedy or worsened the aftermath it's not "scoring points" it's trying to hit a mule with a 2x4.

It just seem that todays super mules need an I-beam to the head.

Mart said...

Mr. Bacon - I assume Governor Nixon is counting on federal disaster funds to restock Missouri's empty treasury in the wake of the Joplin disaster. I also assume you are aware of the New Madrid EQ potential. If it lets loose it will leave a line of destruction from Memphis to Central Illinois. I buy EQ insurance (which comes with very high 20% minimum deductible). I do this even though I know if the big one hits insurance companies will go bust as there is no where near enough in reserve. And guess who will be counting on the Feds to bail them out?, you and me.

I have seen the Red Cross and FEMA mobilize. The Red Cross sets up shelters and serves food. FEMA rolls in with communication trailers, diesel electric generators, heavy equipment to dig through debris, etc. They are both extremely helpful, but they ain't the same thing.

FYI-My wife's cousins house in North County had five trees planted in it during the Good Friday tornadoes. The house is condemned. Thankfully nobody was hurt.

drater said...

Couple problems with Dr. Paul's arguments: It's about impossible to insure against every contingency, and insurance companies are experts at exploiting loopholes in their policies. And multiple disasters put many of those insurers at risk. I expect it won't be long before we hear about how they're "too big to fail", and we're handing them hundreds of billions of dollars, which may or may not eventually trickle down to the disaster victims.

Chez said...

There's little I enjoy more when discussing Ron Paul, by the way, than derisively stressing his "Doctor" title.

The Bacon said...


If you go back and read the first paragraph of my first comment, I say very clearly that I disagree with Paul.

There certainly is a place for FEMA.

I agree with you totally on the earthquake insurance. Honest insurance companies won't even sell it in the midwest (Allstate for example.) When the big one comes and the insurance companies go broke...that's an appropriate place for FEMA to step in.

Sorry about your wife's cousins place. Although not like Joplin, that destruction was awesome inspiring. I'm glad he/she made it through okay.

Ref said...

So, Bacon, FEMA should be holding everything in reserve for the "big one?" This tornado outbreak is exactly what FEMA was designed for, among other disasters.

Mart said...

Bacon, make it through the latest batch OK? I am getting sick of these fucking tornado sirens. Opened the front door to check out the storm and retreated quickly from the sideways rain deluge. The hail was small and no local tornadoes, so all is well today, (so far). (I paid extra for hail resistant shingles, me being a responsible liberal.) Speaking of Cairo, I head there this week... assuming the rivers are behaving. One god-awful crazy fucking spring.

Bill B. said...

Government and insurance can only work when everyone is part of the plan or eligible for coverage and no one is in a special excluded group due to cherry-picking or discrimination as "other".

I am not hearing the same things said about the current weather disasters that were said about Katrina/New Orleans. Wonder why.

The Bacon said...


Only a willful misreading of my comments could lead you to that conclusion.

Mart, I'm getting tired of it as well. Lot of branches and hail damage to my car, but my familiy and I are all well.

Thank you for asking.