Fund-raising, FEMA and fossil fuels

As can be expected in this election year, even a devastating super storm that wrecked havoc all along the East Coast has been politicized. Mitt Romney has been taken to task by the Democrats for suggesting that if he becomes president FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the disaster arm of the government, will be on the chopping block.

Instead Romney would place that kind of authority in the hands of the states, even though Republican Governor Chris Christie praised FEMA and the President for the cooperation and leadership shown his state in the aftermath of Sandy. For Romney, government agencies like FEMA are really not the answer to disaster. Instead he has taken the private sector approach asking for contributions and in kind donations for those in need.

As can be expected, Barack Obama is a government kind of guy who believes strongly in a national disaster relief agency and sees that the only way to deal with such calamities is by a centralized bureaucracy that thinks and acts nationally. I presume Obama is not opposed to the private sector or people helping people, since that is the American way, but government should not sit on the sidelines when a national disaster strikes, and Sandy was a national disaster that will affect the entire national economy. Needless to say, Obama’s critics are quick to point out that FEMA is just another example of big, bloated government.

As Governor Christie angrily stated in a news conference, this disaster is not about politics, but it does point out differences between Romney and Obama – public vs. private, federal government vs. state government,  government helping people vs. people helping people. There really shouldn’t be these opposites when it comes to disaster relief, but for those looking for a political philosophy to follow as the election nears, Sandy does provide one way of self-definition.  Personally, I can’t fathom how a $ 50 billion rebuilding effort can be solved by fund-raising. New York needs a huge injection of national money to rebuild its infrastructure and protect it’s coastline from super storms. I don’t think that the $ 50 billion will come from mom and pop contributions or even checks written by Fortune Five Hundred companies.

One last point. Sandy could be the storm of the century never to come again to the East
Coast, or it could be the harbinger of what scientists have been warning for years – global warming and climate change will spawn super storms that could destroy major coastal cities. This is a wake up call to all the deniers out there who for some weird reason refuse to accept the expert analysis of climate scientists and hang on to the musings of a tiny fraction of climatologists who dismiss the vast majority as having some sort of personal/financial agenda.  As for me, I vote for the scientists out there who warned us years ago about super storms and coastal devastation.

As for all those impacted Sandy, good luck in rebuilding. Tomorrow will be a better day.



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