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Sadie Stern looks out over the choppy Hudson River from a pier along the Hudson River Greenway, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in New York. (CX Matiash/AP)

Like most everyone else on the Eastern seaboard, I spent all Monday inside, watching Mother Nature rip my neighborhood a new one, monitoring The Weather Channel, and trying to keep my stir-crazy children from stabbing each other with pipe cleaners.

The storm put me in mind of Hurricane Andrew, which I experienced first-hand back in 1992. Then, as now, everyone was focused on the same stuff: how to keep ourselves safe, and where we could get help. That’s the one hidden dividend of natural disasters: they have a way of cutting through the white noise of marketing and punditry that dominates American popular culture.

The most glaring exception to this rule, in the case of Sandy, has been the puerile election coverage the storm has generated. It’s mostly been about which candidate will get a bounce.

But Sandy isn’t just some variable in the latest polling data. It’s a category 5 example of the glaring philosophical differences between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

I don’t want this to sound partisan, or shrill. But these are the facts:

Last June, when Romney was trying to win the GOP nomination, he enthusiastically agreed that federal disaster response should be slashed to save federal dollars. “Absolutely,” he said. “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.”

Sandy isn’t just some variable in the latest polling data. It’s a category 5 example of the glaring philosophical differences between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

You got that? If a natural disaster rips your house to shreds, the Romney plan is: let’s get the private sector right on the case! That’ll work just great, especially if the folks in question just lost everything they own. I’m sure the private sector will be delighted to help them out, because, I mean, isn’t that what the private sector is for — to help out folks in need?

I’m trying not to be sarcastic about this. But you really need to think about what Romney said, because it’s exactly the same thing he said about the auto bailout — forget government help, let the private sector save Detroit! It’s what he says about sick people with pre-existing conditions, and what he says about the millions whose Medicaid benefits he hopes to cut, and what he hopes eventually to say to Medicare recipients. (Forget that guaranteed medical care you used to get from that awful federal government, granny. Here’s a voucher — the private sector will take care of you!)

Romney’s aides spent Monday insisting that he would never abolish the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). But even his idea of sending disaster relief back to the states is bogus, according to experts like Kathleen Tierney, director of the Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “I just cannot envision states doing a very good job in the disaster area on their own,” Tierney told The Washington Post. Why? Because they don’t have the money.

This is how Romney operates. He says he’s going to repeal that terrible Obamacare and allow states to come up with their own health care plans — which sounds great as a sales pitch. But read the fine print: the only reason the Massachusetts plan was feasible is because federal tax dollars paid for most of it.

Obama is far from a perfect candidate, or president. But he campaigned on a promise to learn from the mistakes of his predecessor and improve federal disaster relief, and by all accounts — including that of conservative governors such as Bobby Jindal and Chris Christie — he’s made good on that promise. He’s appointed a professional manager, not a crony, to head FEMA, and been aggressive in making sure the federal government is prepared for disasters.

He didn’t take these measures to score political points. As with the auto bailout, and Obamacare — both deeply unpopular at the time — he acted out of a basic sense that the federal government can and should help Americans in trouble.

For the past 30 years, the right wing of this country has peddled the opposite view: government is the problem, the private sector is the solution. They’ve brainwashed poor and middle class Americans into believing this by appealing to their benighted sense of self-reliance. And they’ve done this even as they dole out billions of federal dollars to corporations and millionaires.

If it does nothing else, the specter of Sandy should put the lie to this insidious line of propaganda.

As I write this, winds of 40 mph are whipping against the windows of our home. A giant maple just crashed into a neighbor’s house down the street. Our power lines are flailing wildly.

What I want right now, especially if things take a turn for the worse, is a president who believes government’s role is to help citizens in need, not when it’s politically expedient, but as a matter of principle.

Don’t you?

Tags: Barack Obama, Election 2012, Mitt Romney

The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the writer and do not in any way reflect the views of WBUR management or its employees.

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  • Green Tea

    Good try. :)

    • jefe68

      Good try at what? The truth. You know if you agree with Mitt Romney and the GOP you are not only a fool you’re short sighted. Government needs to serve functions for the safety and welfare of the nation. If Mitt Romney and the party he represents have their way say good bye to FEMA, Disease and Control, FAA, National Weather Service, Medicaid, and Medicare, SNAP, and many more agencies that we all take for granted. Handing it back to the states wont do a thing as they just do not have the resources or money to sustain any of this. In some ways what the GOP wants to do here is engage in the Balkanisation of the US.

      • Joe

        Hate and lies, hate and lies. Please provide your source for that assertion that Romney wants to do all those things.

        The truth of the matter is Conservatives give more time, talent and treasure to their neighbors than every other group combined. They do the volunteer work, provide the money, train the willing and just plain give.

        Romney has done every bit of that and because you are ignorant of the truth that he knows from experience you put him down. As I posted earlier now is the time for people like you to loose their ignorance and join those who are already being their brothers keeper.

        Or you can sit at home and whine and what for the government to come give you a sponge bath!

        • http://twitter.com/Blake_Mitchell Blake Mitchell

          The source is Romney’s words himself. The author provided a link to Romney clearly stating a desire to eliminate FEMA in one of the GOP debates. Now, if you want to accuse Romney of being a liar, and saying something he doesn’t really mean, I can see how a person might believe something like that.

          ps–Before you accuse anyone else of being ignorant, you might want to (a) learn how to spell–you “shutter” to think?–and (b) figure out that personal, anecdotal stories of your heroic volunteering exploits do not trump verifiable data showing that federal disaster relief efforts–when performed competently–are by far the most effective means of handling a job like the aftermath of Sandy.

          pps–Do those two things successfully, and then perhaps we can deal with (c) your penchant for constructing straw man arguments and generally making sh*t up out of thin air.

          • Joe

            Government needs to get our doing what it is the citizens responsibility. As posted above Doherty and Woods died being their brothers keeper when the government had decided to sacrifice the ambassador.

            So nice of you to discount the truth because of a spelling error. The information was to make a point a point that you must have missed while studying for the spelling bee. NGO’s do a majority of the work in every disaster. Perhaps you can walk away from your spelling in look at the data that is out there.

            Some facts for you,

            http://www.disastercenter.com/agency.htm

            http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/09/us/09baptist.html?pagewanted=all

            Just a short list of those who respond and what they do, and a NYT article on one of them.

            Oh and when the 82nd Airborne jumped into Haiti to help the jumped in on Catholic Charities who were already there.

            So perhaps when you are done trying to blow down those straw men who it seems are made of bricks you will see that it is you who are making ….

          • http://twitter.com/Blake_Mitchell Blake Mitchell

            “Oh and when the 82nd Airborne jumped into Haiti to help the jumped in on Catholic Charities who were already there.”

            WTF are you talking about? That sentence doesn’t even make sense.

          • Joe

            Ah Blake get out more often.

            For the record the 82nd Airborne was one of the earliest arrivals into Haiti after the horrific earthquake that killed a quarter of a million people in a couple of minutes. When they were trying to find a drop zone the found an open area where a lot of people were gathered. They jumped in and the people were gathered there because Catholic Charities was already on ground giving out aid.

            Once again a typo for you to do your happy dance. It should have read “they”.

          • Joe

            Oh look Blake another typo. Time for your little dance.

          • http://twitter.com/Blake_Mitchell Blake Mitchell

            That wasn’t a typo and you know it. Now you’re just a desperate liar. If you don’t care enough to pay attention to proper spelling and grammar, how can we expect you to pay attention to detailed facts? The answer is, we can’t. There’s really no point in debating imbeciles like you.

          • Joe

            Actually it was the post following it. I typed “get our” and meant “get out”.

            Once again not a single fact and knowing that you run from the field of battle as obama did on Doherty, Woods and the Ambassador.

          • http://twitter.com/Blake_Mitchell Blake Mitchell

            There’s a big difference between arguing with a crazy person and “running from the field of battle,” you brave keyboard warrior you.

          • Joe

            Now you are hiding? Thanks for making my point Blake.

          • http://twitter.com/Blake_Mitchell Blake Mitchell

            There’s a big difference between refusing to argue with a crazy person and
            “running from the field of battle,” you brave keyboard warrior you.

          • Joe

            I guess your deflection means you support the presidents decision to abandon our ambassador?

        • JB

          I love the idea of charity — started a literacy nonprofit 6 years ago — but as a system of giving … How do I write my donation checks if we do away with big government things like FEMA, NIH, free and reduced lunches? Do I write an annual check for 1/1,000,000 of my paycheck to each of the researchers working in labs to cure diseases and create medical interventions that save lives? And do I first research and screen all of those researchers with my own peer review system to see if I deem their work solid? Do I write a check of a tiny percentage of a penny to each of the parents of kids who need free and/or reduced lunches — knowing everyone else will also write such checks? How do I donate to road care and firetruck repair? How much to the military from my paycheck? How much to each national park? How much to FEMA? Tell me how I know how to support universities, public schools, pay teachers, public defenders, civil servants, my postal carrier… Tell me how to give to prisons. That one won’t be very popular so I’ll be sure to give a little extra? I understand giving to the local food shelter — but what if the poorest states in our nation are the ones in dire need and I live far from them and I’m not exposed to their problems? How do I decide how to give locally and when to give to other states that are struggling?

          • Joe

            JB please source where Romney has said he was going to, and I quote, “FEMA, Disease and Control, FAA, National Weather Service, Medicaid, and Medicare, SNAP, and many more agencies that we all take for granted.”

            Let’s see I fill a truck with gas. The station owner makes $1.80 off of my $100.00+ purchase. The government in its many forms makes over $13.00. That is supposed to go for the repair and building of roads. JB why are our roads and bridges falling into disrepair? Why having said this did obama not fix a single bridge. He even had the audacity to laugh about that fact that there were indeed no “shovel ready” jobs.

            As far as the rest of your argument you educate yourself and run for office.

  • MrLongleg

    Great post ! Thank you for summing up what I was thinking about the situation. It is good to know that there are still some Americans left that have a heart and feel compassion for their fellow citizens. (And for the record – I am a small business owner in the software sector, created some high paying jobs and always was able to take care for myself – but I also know that there are lots of people out there who are less fortunate than I am). If the GOP wins this elections we will probably wish G.W. Bush came back, because things will get a lot worse than under the abysmal leadership of Bush.

  • Joe

    Well when all you have is the government for a god I guess you have to vote obama. If you know for a fact that the government is not a god, then you rely on yourself and your neighbors to help you out. I have done disaster relief work all over this country and in Haiti as well. I am told obama thinks that he can put one of his voters on the payroll and do a better job than those who do it for free and all the right reasons. I don’t know a single government worker who I can work for days without food and sleep, well aside from our brave men and woman in the military. I shutter to think what would happen in a life or death situation and it was the union break time.

    The saddest part of your whole post is that I get the impression that you have never seen your neighbor be his brother’s keeper. I don’t think you can understand what these people do. I think it is time you go see in real time, real life what those who actually care do. There are people already moving from across this great country to aid their brothers in need and you should be out there helping them. One deployment with these brave people will change your world view forever.

    Simple fact of the matter is the people you scorn are the same people who give more in every way to help others then you have the audacity to tell them you know better and the only one who can do what they are already quietly doing is the government.

    • MrLongleg

      Joe, if you read my post I never stated anywhere that government is a God. And I also know that neighbors help each other the best they can – that is what we do and that is what everybody should do. But there are limits what neighbors can do. They won’t empty their bank accounts to repair a road or bridge that was destroyed by a disaster. That is where government is needed. Remember Katrina / New Orleans. That was an example of how a GOP administration cares about their fellow citizens, especially when they are black and poor (and again for the record – I am white).

      I totally believe in self responsibility for the most part. And I don’t think it is wise to create a monster government and I share this opinion with our president. He wants to cut spending and increase revenue at the same time. Compared to GDP the U.S. has the lowest taxation (by far) of all industrialized countries. Lets bring taxes up to ~22% of GDP and lower spending to that same level.

      Since this is ow a philosophical discussion about the role of government, I see two important areas in our personal lives where government plays a decisive role as a regulator and provider: health care and education. We get a level playing field if people won’t get bankrupt because they got sick and if they can get higher education at affordable prices. And we need to take care of the elderly and the handicapped people (social security etc.) The biggest increase in government was again under Bush with the creation of the department of homeland security. I did not hear anybody from the GOP complain about that.

      • Joe

        Hate and lies, hate and lies. You bigotry for the right is clearly clouding your judgement.

        Fact there was more than enough money given to the people of New Orleans to rebuild better and safer. Once again we saw what the government you love so much does. They set up scams to make millions off of the misery of others. One man said he would clear all the streets for free just for the salvage value of the debris. The city would not let him and instead gave a very lucrative contract to a connected person who charged that same government millions to do what it could have done for free.

        A friend of mine was within site of the Super Dome in an ERV loaded with food and water. Your same precious government turned that vehicle around and refused to let them go in. You see the Super Dome is a shelter of last resort and by doctrine does not get resupplied. One of your government minions read their precious government bible and turned them around.

        I disagree with you on both of your religious beliefs. It is not the governments responsibility to educate or indoctrinate my children of which I have six. They go to private school which cost me greatly. I do not entrust my most valuable assets to the government to destroy. Statistically the two best teachers are first a stay at home college educated parent and the second is the high school educated stay at home parent. Sad that a high school educated mother spending under $600.00 per student out performs a masters level teacher in every metric even after the government spends $17,000 per student.

        Oh and as far as medical care is concerned make those who use it pay for it and the system will fix itself. The most demanding patients are those who pay the least.

        In closing I did complain about turning my safety over to a bunch of lazy government workers who can’t make a decision. Worked well for Dougherty and Woods didn’t it. Yea obama gave the ambassador up for dead but there was at least two men with the courage to defend what your precious government would not, the life and safety of her people.

        • MrLongleg

          Are you seriously proposing home schooling as an alternative to public schools? Every civilized nation in this world has a public school system and I thought at least that would be common ground.

          Moreover you insult all the brave unionized firefighters (lazy government workers in your view) of New York, who sacrificed their lives on 9/11. Shame on you !

          • Joe

            Nice try. My point was that a high school educated stay at home mom does a much better job than the public schools you speak of. Do you send you children to public school?

            So is it your point that the only reason those firefighters where there that day was because of the union? Talk about shame it is a disgrace that you would justify the daily failing of your beloved union teachers by comparing them to those who gave their lives for people.

            Tell me what would you do if a firefighter failed as often as union teachers do?

          • MrLongleg

            My kids go to public schools (in Massachusetts) and my wife and me are very happy with the level of engagement those unionized teachers are showing. Most of them actually really care about the kids. Of course there always will be some bad teachers too. You are putting all government workers into one basket and that is just simply wrong. Many of them actually do a very good job.

          • Joe

            Actually I had an incredible public school education in MA. I was upset that one of my favorite teachers left to make more money.

            Times have changed though and the teachers elect those who lead them. They fight to keep pedophiles in the classroom, fight to keep failing teachers, fight to keep measures of testing out of the classroom so they can continue to fail.

            Perhaps the most hideous action of all is the silent racism that goes on. How many times do we hear that “certain” groups cannot learn?

            We learned this week that we are spending $60,000.00 per household in poverty and still have record poverty. The big difference between religious organizations and government is that government reinforced failure and religious organizations reinforce success.

          • MrLongleg

            Too many generalizations. I can’t see any of what you are talking about here in the Plymouth public schools (except that a very small minority of teachers are just not doing a good job, most of them are engaged and work quite hard to make the kids succeed).

            I am also not saying that we should abolish religious organizations, many of them do a lot of good. But you cannot delegate education to the church in a country that clearly separates state and religion for good reasons, as designed by the founding fathers. Otherwise our children would learn that the world has been created 6000 years ago and that dinosaurs were a fake. We certainly would never have been able to send a man to the moon and an amazing rover to Mars if our science would be based on the content of a 2000 year old book.

            I do not agree that government reinforces failure (look as an example to our military, some of our state universities and the amazing missions executed by Nasa), but it is true that some government programs are failures – and Obama already shut down a couple of them. We have to look case by case, get rid of inefficient programs and make sure that tax dollars are invested into our kids the right way. That is not an easy process and generalizations usually are not helpful.

            And I also agree that teachers unions are not always helpful, they also should allow some measures to ensure that bad teachers will loose their job. Afaik there is some movement going on in this area right now.

          • Joe

            Please show me in the Constitution where the mythical separation is.

            Next of course there are good teachers but by and large our union run public schools fail a lot more times then the succeed.

            I have seen schools in Africa and Haiti put out a better product without any of the luxuries that we are told are essential. We rank in the twenties among the nations and are number one in spending.

            Government does indeed reinforce failure. That is a fact that is undeniable. Case in point, a guy becomes a drunk, most religious organizations sober him up and places him back in society as a contributing member. What does the government do? They make excuses for him and steal from good sober people to give money to the failure for life in the form of SSI. We now have a record number of people on SSI. To present for a second time, the US Government spends $60,000.00 per household in poverty and poverty is growing every day under obama.

            Going by your post I assume you believe the Big Bang theory that the world just appeared out of nothing.

          • MrLongleg

            Your teachers obviously failed you: the separation of church and state is part of the first amendment, more information can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separation_of_church_and_state_in_the_United_States.

            Regarding the unions – I just cannot confirm this experience from the everyday school life of our kids. The US ranks in the twenties because the public schools in all the red states are in a very bad state. Massachusetts has the best schools in the nation and is solidly blue. The red states drag us down, that is the reason for our bad ranking. (Btw, if you look at economic data, the red states have the highest poverty rate, least people under health insurance etc etc).

            You are also implying that people in food stands are all drinkers. That is total nonsense. Most of them are poor people or families in the lower middle class that have a hard time to make ends meet. Yes – there are drinkers and druggies too, but I have not seen any effort of the previous administration to help them in any way. The fact that the number of people on food stamps increased under Obama is simply cause by the enormous economic disasters which was caused by GOP politics in the first place. Obama at least was able to turn the downtrend into an uptrend regarding job creation and the economy. And if the GOP had not blocked most of his policies we would have a couple million more jobs by now.

            Yes – I believe in the theory of the big bang. And this theory does not say the universe came out of nowhere – it only says we cannot know what was there before. Are you one of those creationists??

            Don’t get me wrong – I respect your believes and your religion – but religion cannot be part of our science and math education. You identified some issues that need to be addressed. If we all came together and would have an honest discussion about issues and leave ideology at the doorstep we could move this nation forward by a lot.

          • Joe

            Actually it does not. I am quite familiar with the Constitution and the only mention in the First Amendment is that the government will not infringe on the Free Expression. Please show me where you find this mythical separation.

            Next when about education you have to talk about unions that protect pedophiles over the children and at a rate that is many times greater than ever happened in the Catholic church.

            My point is having worked with and done volunteer work is that many on assistance are a sham. Tell me you don’t know a person who has collected unemployment while working under the table. How many alcoholics are now receiving SSI while actually disabled people have to fight for it.

            Please show me where the BUSH economy was so bad. By every metric it was good aside from all the smart money that left it when obama appeared to be the odds on favorite. To be truthful you can look at the obama recovery propaganda graph and say one thing the disaster started when nancy and harry took over.

            Oh and one final thought,

            http://www.waff.com/story/19981857/some-nonunion-ala-crews-turned-away-from-sandy-recovery

          • MrLongleg

            Bush started a war based on lies. Bush made sure that most of the world would hate the US. Bush further widened the gap between rich and poor. Bush ignored intelligence that could have stopped 9/11. And the criminal Cheney funneled billions to his oil buddies and Halliburton.

            Nobody wants pedophile teachers and I haven’t seen a single case in my life here. They should be fired on the spot. No reasonable person would argue with that. (Same for pedophile priests)

            The first amendment is interpreted by the vast majority of constitution experts in a way that the government should not make laws that are based on religion, not give preference to any specific religion but allow the freedom of religion (as long as this freedom does not interfere with other people’s freedom).

            You seem to be a decent guy but live in a very different world. I don’t see the things you see, so in closing we could say that we agree to disagree.

            God bless America (and it is a blessing that we can have different views about things)

          • massappeal

            For what it’s worth, my kids (along with about 80% of America’s children) go to public schools.

            Also for what it’s worth, I’d put the quality of education they’ve received up against not only the overwhelming majority of home schoolers, but also against the overwhelming majority of private schools.

          • Mary

            Home schooling?? Well there goes science!!

        • SB

          The one fact you leave out of this comment Joe is that Obama was not the president at the time of Katrina. George Bush was. I live in New Orleans. I know about disaster relief efforts and it takes a combination of private sector assistance and public money (and protection i.e. National Guard) to get a job like disaster clean-up done. I don’t think government is almighty or at all perfect, but I also know that the private sector isn’t either. And when you have cases like Sandy or Katrina, it takes both. Plain and simple.

          • Joe

            I agree SB. The biggest problem with the response for Katrina was Posse Comitatus. The Federal Government was not allowed to step in until asked. For political reasons that request took days. As I posted I had a friend turned away from the Super Dome with a loaded ERV. She almost had PTSD because of that.

            I was in the National Guard and knew what a cluster that whole thing was when I saw people waiting to get into the dome while the bands were coming on shore.

            I do agree that it does take both. The overall sentiment of the article and many posts is that the government is the be all and end all. We saw this in the DNC convention when they played the video that said the only thing we all had in common was government.

            Currently in most EOCs they are responsible for only Command and Control. There is a big move in the government to do away with that. They want complete control and fight that fight when ever I can. Sad to think that a sixty year old unpaid volunteer will out work almost any 18 year old paid worker today. That is an issue for another day.

        • Judy

          Hey Joe, do you live in a “red” state? Seems your education was less than wonderful. “Shutter” instead of “shudder”. “Site” instead of “sight”. Someone with a decent elementary school education should understand the differences in these homonyms. Perhaps a little more money spent by the government on your education would help your arguments. It is hard to have credibility when these sorts of basic mistakes are made with such regularity inn your posts.

          • Joe

            Once again we have some one who cannot defend the merits of their position so they go after a typo. I guess truly you are the one who can cast the first stone, as you have never made a mistake inn your posts.

    • mdot

      My my. Seems you can’t believe in God and in the government’s role in helping and protecting people. I didn’t know I was such a freak of nature!

      Certainly individuals help their neighbors all the time, but are they going to be able to clear trees off of power lines and clear out flooded areas? Yes, I can give my neighbors food and shelter, but I couldn’t possibly give them a new road, restore broken subways, put out massive fires. When we as a nation leave those activities only to the private sector they get done unevenly. Truth is we are a government of the people, by the people and for the people. When the government helps my neighbor on the other side of the country or in the state where I live, you and I are also helping that person. No one is saying that individuals shouldn’t help, but individuals alone can’t suffice. Most individuals can’t afford to put their lives on hold for the time it takes to recover from a huge disaster like this. You are lucky that you can.
      For all your supposed godliness, you have written something nasty like this:
      “I shutter to think what would happen in a life or death situation and it was the union break time.”

      First, I think you are shuddering, not shuttering, and second, please when you wonder what would happen in a life or death situation consider the hundreds of unionized fire and police officers who ran into the buildings on 9/11. They didn’t worry about breaks, or their own safety. They worried about saving people, and you dishonor them with your remarks.

      Our government is not separate from us, it is us.

      • Joe

        Actually yes, there are chainsaw crews, mud out crews on the way as we speak. There are people with portable shower and laundry facilities heading into the storm ravaged areas right now. The Red Cross has already set Command Posts and the Southern Baptist Convention has sent feeding units to feed the people and the workers. The Salvation Army has their clothing distribution and feeding people in the area already.

        If you will take the time to open your eyes you will witness what has happened across this country all the time. There are utility crews from around the country heading your way. The power is the responsibility of the power companies, not the government. There are somethings that are the pervue of government, as you identified the roads.

        The fact of the matter is that without NGOs (non-government organizations) almost all of the recovery would take much longer and cost exponentially more.

        Why do you want to rob some one of a blessing?

        • http://twitter.com/Blake_Mitchell Blake Mitchell

          Why is it an “either or thing” for you? Find me one liberal who wants to prevent NGOs from offering aid in a time of need. The Red Cross and Salvation Army have their purposes, and so does FEMA.

          ps–You asked another poster to supply a source–that the author had already provided–for his facts. When are you going to start providing YOUR sources for many of these wild claims you are making, i.e.: “The fact of the matter is that without NGOs (non-government
          organizations) almost all of the recovery would take much longer and
          cost exponentially more.” I’ll remind you of one thing, also: “Exponentially” is a very big word when you’re trying to convert it to actual dollar amounts.

          • Joe

            obama has stated that he wants to turn most of the duties over to paid people.

            Second I provided a list of NGO’s that do disaster relief for free, I know for a fact having worked in both realms that most NGO volunteers work harder and longer than their government counter parts.

            Have you ever had to meet a payroll? Do you understand how it works especially with a union or CS scale?

            http://www.namb.net/activity-report/

            Take a look! 91,105 volunteer days. Now sometimes that is a pretty light day, setting up or training. There are times when that day can stretch into a full 24 hour work day. Pick up a unit, drive it to the disaster area, set it up, then ensure its safety.

            So let’s figure this out we have an unpaid volunteer who may or may not have paid for his CDL out of his own pocket, wakes up and goes to the storage facility to pick up say a feeding unit. Some of these units cost over six figures, again mostly paid for by church members. He then drives that unit to a disaster area. Depending on the mission they may or may not get reimbursed by the Red Cross or another NGO with tactical control of the mission. They then have to set up the unit in primitive conditions to prepare for the next day. This is all done with almost not cost t

          • http://twitter.com/Blake_Mitchell Blake Mitchell

            “obama has stated that he wants to turn most of the duties over to paid people.”

            No, he hasn’t.

          • Joe

            Yes he has, it is part of the expanded DHS that he envisioned.

            Once again I had not got a single fact from you, a lot of lies and a few names but nothing factual.

          • massappeal

            Evidence for your claim?

        • mdot

          Oh dear Joe. Your subsequent posts are a lot more extreme than I thought they would be. And a lot less nice for someone who claims to be so Godly. Out of curiosity, who did I suggest robbing of a blessing? We all should help each other, not rant at each other. I now bow out of this conversation.

          • Joe

            Concur with the sentiment.

            You did not. I apologize.

      • mary

        Oh those activities get done.. but only if there is a profit motive involved. … because that’s what business is about.. after all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/stefiniyjairo Stephanie Escobar Martinez

    amen Im with you one hundred thousand percent. Romney would be a disaster for this country and basically take away all those rights we have earned over the past few centuries.

    • Joe

      How can you even post that? Please tell me where you get that idea. What rights has he voiced that he wants to change.

      • edmeese

        1) The right to vote. Romney and Ryan are backing attempts to add a poll tax and take the right to vote away from millions of poorer Americans that don’t have a driver’s license.

        2) The right to property. Romney would like to continue to tax small business owners like me at a rate of over 50% while he and his cronies only pay 13%.

        3) The right to life. Romney vigorously supports the death penalty, even for accomplices. Obama believes (correctly) that “the system or investigating and prosecuting capital crimes is so flawed that the nation should declare a moratorium on executions”.

        Hmm. Voting. Property. Life. I think that’s enough. But if you want me to go on to things like health care, equal pay, non-discrimination, I’d be happy to.

  • George Bailey

    States do everything better, except Military Defense. Block grant the FEMA money back to the States so they can handle their own disasters. Katrina was a poor response because everyone wa swaiting on FEMA.

    • Contrarian

      This is a very true statement. Subsidiarity is one of the strongest notions for government organization, and here it is more true than most other areas. The requirements in responding to a natural disaster are just too numerous and serious for a single-minded entity with disastrously slow response time to take over. Allow the states & community organizations to respond- because they can much quicker- rather than the U.S. government.

    • Mary

      No they don’t Look at TExas.. It does very little for Teenagers who are having sex.. Instead some of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the country, and these poor teens then wind up having the birth of their baby paid for by medicare.- which we all pay for out of our own pockets..

    • massappeal

      Well, actually, Katrina was a poor response in large part (not exclusively) because Pres. Bush had made FEMA a patronage haven and put “Heckuva job Brownie” in charge.

      As for the assertion that “states do everything better, except military defense”, do you have any evidence to back that up? (And if it’s true, then why did the founders grant so many powers to the federal government?)

  • Verge

    Steve, You must have been worried about losing electricity with your “power lines flailing wildly”. Imagine how you would feel if you had a battery bank in your basement with plenty of energy stored from a solar array or wind turbine in your yard. You’d know you’d have electricity, but you’d be afraid of something worse, like a tree falling on your house. You have the private sector to thank for that peace of mind, because the oil companies have had the foresight to prevent the government from subsidizing alternative energy sources until the last drop of oil is extracted from the planet. When that happens we’ll all be ready for solar and they’ll provide it for us.

  • Barry3

    Nice try at deflection Steve.

    How about concentrating on recent events (like O’numbnutz getting 4 Americans killed) instead of trumped up hyperbole???

    Liberal fail!!

  • Birddog2012

    An other prime example of the Romney Double-Think is his cynical decision to to go on with his campaign rally in Ohio today, dispite the suffering of hundreds of thousands of folks in the east who were in the direct path of this monster storm. As reported by NPR today during ‘Talk of The Nation’, Romney simply has changed what he calls his campaign rally in Ohio-He now is referring to it as a “Donation Event” where-by the same list of speakers are to appear, the same talking points are to covered and the same banners and multi-media presentaions are to be held. The only difference? His supporters are supposed to bring several cans of food to donate to the storms victims through the United Way.
    The problem however is that United Way previously informed the Romney people that there is no way that they can deliver the goods to storm victims and instead suggested that cash donations would be perferable (cash donations made to the Romney campaign have the same chance to get to the storm victims as Romney’s vast overseas Bank holdings have in being brought back to the US to be deposited in American Banks and taxed-Exactly Zero).
    Birddog

  • OceanOfStars

    Gee. Have you noticed something. ALL of the response currently on the ground in the affected areas is STATE and Local. FEMA is nowhere to be seen and other than making a disaster declaration, there is NO federal involvement to date.

    Obama just made a big speech. Where did he make it from? The American Red Cross headquarters in Washington, DC. Who did he tell people to turn to? The Red Cross because, “They know how to get these things done”. Romney did not say turn disaster response over to private industry, or business, he said to turn it over to the “private sector”. I would certainly think that “private sector” includes the Red Cross and other private charities and agencies. The Romney campaign, via their website and other resources, has been asking people to make donations to the Red Cross for days, since the pending disaster became evident, and continues to do so.

    Assuming the quote in the article is correct, ““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.” It would seem to be EXACTLY the right thing to do.

  • OceanOfStars

    Hurricane Sandy as liberal activist:

    The most disgusting part, Obama and his campaign have injected their slogan “Lean Forward” into speeches about the storm at least four times. The most recent today in a speech where Obama said, “I have told federal disaster responders to LEAN FORWARD and figure out how to get things done rather than why we can’t…..” There are no federal disaster responders. They distribute funds….period!! The state and local authorities do all the work. FEMA is just another layer of federal civil servants skimming a little more money off the top before it gets to state disaster agencies.

    http://www.humanevents.com/2012/10/30/hurricane-sandy-as-liberal-activist/

  • http://profiles.google.com/shava23 Shava Nerad

    I blogged about this last night listening to ‘BUR and the BBC World News Service.

    https://plus.google.com/101371184407256956306/posts/Njnh2LuYS4e

    Seems like thousands of words will be written contrasting the responses to Sandy and Katrina, eventually. Don’t you think?

    Contrast the NYC Bonfire of the Vanities 1%ers Sandy bail-out upcoming with the shaft that the Big Easy got. Then just weep.

  • Nink

    One thing you left out is that as things are now, FEMA assistance to the states is subordinate to each state’s governor & in support of that state’s own relief efforts. Whether or not to seek aid from FEMA is already in each state’s control.

    • X-Ray

      That’s the party line now that Obama has the responsibility. When Katrina hit and Bush was in charge, the call was for FEMA to provide housing, rebuilding, etc. without regard for State or local leadership.

  • razorfish

    So, in other words, progressives like President Obama are decent, humane, caring people who are morally and intellectually superior to conservatives like Mitt Romney, who are cold, heartless plutocrats who care only about themselves and their billionaire buddies. This is some very deep thinking, Steve, full of subtlety and nuance. Since I’m one of those brainwashed middle Americans you describe, I’m a sucker for cheap appeals to my “benighted” sense of self reliance. (You might want to look up “benighted.”) I hope you don’t know many conservatives like the ones you describe here, but this silly article makes me wonder if you know any conservatives at all.

  • Pingback: Idiot Wind: Why Sandy Matters To The Election; Tuesday, October 30, 2012, by Steve Almond | Find Me in Chatham

  • X-Ray

    If you build a folly of a house or business in an area threatened by nature’s forces and you don’t build it with that in mind, or don’t maintain it, or don’t maintain insurance to cover it, why should you expect other people to come to rebuild it for you or pay for your folly? If,you like the water view, take the risk for the consequences. Yes, if your folly gets you in trouble, we will help you maintain your life, but the long term responsibility is yours. What’s wrong with that?

  • kkirsh

    Well said and absolutely right on!

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