As I write this, hurricane Sandy is slamming the North Eastern seaboard. The storm surge, flooding, and 85mph gusts will potentially devastate New England with tree damage, home flooding, and extended electrical outages. New York’s subway system is shut down, and millions of people will soon be facing the wintry cold of late October. Economically, forecasts are estimating the damage and financial loss to be in the billions.
Why am I telling you this? It is because there is a presidential candidate and an entire party platform that would prefer federally funded assistance programs for disaster relief be culled. While our states’ budgets are dwindling and thirty-two states are officially bankrupt, candidate Mitt Romney says that we should “absolutely” eliminate FEMA. During a CNN debate, Romney stated:
“Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better. Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep?”
One only has to look back a few years to spot his hypocrisy, as when Romney was governor of Massachusetts; he too was begging for federal dollars to clean up after a storm. What I would like to call your attention to is the governor’s call for privatization of disaster relief. What would that mean for citizens affected by natural disasters? If the private sector is represented by profiteering capitalists, it would spell debt and struggle for disaster victims. We can see glimpses of this with disaster insurance policies that leave homeowners stranded with pages of payout-pending clauses. Outside of that, what worries me most is the Republican notion that instead of relying on our representative government to assist us after a billion dollar disaster, we should be leaning on our local churches and religious organizations. Perhaps we should just go with Romney’s plan B: prayer. It’s equally effective.
Now, I understand that the balance between federal and state responsibility is a fine balance, and so is debt management. When asked if he would consider cutting vital federal funding for disaster relief, Romney dodged the question and responded that it would be “immoral” to rack up debt for future generations. Ultimately aiming for such care to be managed by profiteers and proselytizers? That is truly unconscionable.
Since you’re already online & reading blogs about hurricane Sandy, I also suggest this post from a Connecticut resident.