Friday, September 2, 2011

On Ron Paul and FEMA

Ron Paul is catching hell from the Statists and their Mainstream Media allies for saying that the U.S. should abolish FEMA.  (For the benefit of people in other countries reading this, FEMA is our Federal Emergency Management Agency.  And congratulations on having less debt than us BTW.)

But every now and then, in order to make the Bush administration look worse, someone slips up and publishes the truth.  For instance, this is from The New York Holy Times:

Far from deferring to state or local officials, FEMA asserted its authority and made things worse, Mr. Broussard complained on "Meet the Press."

When Wal-Mart sent three trailer trucks loaded with water, FEMA officials turned them away, he said. Agency workers prevented the Coast Guard from delivering 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel, and on Saturday they cut the parish's emergency communications line, leading the sheriff to restore it and post armed guards to protect it from FEMA, Mr. Broussard said.

If you have to put armed guards in place to protect your phone lines from a federal government agency, it is time to defund that federal government agency.  Leave disaster preparedness to the states. 



Nick said...

Blanco is an idiot who wanted to claim the glory of control for herself and shift blame on others.

Here's the deal: the governor is in control of the National Guard of her state. If she mobilizes them, the state pays for them. They dont get full military pay and benefits.

But if the troops are federalized, then the federal government picks up the tab, the soldiers get full active duty pay and benefits, and all of the resources come under a unified command - working together instead of answering to different chiefs.

The president cannot federalize the troops on his own. The governor must REQUEST IT. The government is PROHIBITED from sending in federal troops under Posse Comitatus unless the governor requests it. Blanco refused Bush's urgent pleas to do so. This article makes it sound like Bush was trying to cut some deal with an 'agreement' - he was obeying the law!

FEMA does not have enough resources or contracts in place to support a city for more than a day at most. That's why the National Response Plan makes it crystal clear that state and local officials are and MUST BE the first responders. They have to make plans and follow them. They have to prepare for their own disasters. The feds cant plan and prepare for a thousand different types of disasters in ten thousand different communities.

Im not arguing FEMA did anything right, but the real cause of the Katrina failure was Blanco's unwillingness to cooperate with Bush, Nagin's refusal to order a mandatory evac and to follow his own plan, and both of their failures to properly prepare for an inevitable flood. NOLA received billions in federal aid to strengthen their levees and the local officials distributed the money to their good old boy network of unions, contractors, and political donors.

Katrina was more of a local and state government failure than a federal failure.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

I think it went all around. Think of all those school buses underwater that were part of the local/state emergency plan.

Dr Ralph said...

Nick - always a pleasure to hear you correct the Whited Sepulchre's more wild-eyed claims.

I'd say more but he'd just put it in a song and wait for me to play harmonica for him.

Nick said...

Good to hear from you Doc!

I've done some reading on the alleged FEMA failures, and mostly I find a lot of vague accusations from questionable sources.

E.g. Turning around the Wal-Mart trucks. Depending on what source you read, this happened either before or after the hurricane hit or there's no mention of when at all. The significance of this is that you don't necessarily want the rescue supplies at ground zero on D-Day at H-Hour. The supplies might be destroyed.

When I worked in Kosovo, there were hundreds of nongovernmental organizations there. Each one had their own interests and agendas. Some were counterproductive. Take, for example, the German NGO which was there to provide firewood. Well, the local rep bought the wood from the local black market that was contributing to deforestation and soil erosion.

On the other hand, the OSCE bureaucrats wouldn't approve my plans for a landfill because it didn't meet European standards. Yet they didn't provide funds or expertise to bring it up to their standards. So, ten years later, they STILL pile their garbage on a hilltop dumpsite, with vectors, feral animals, and runoff plaguing the city.

It's funny you bring up a harmonica, Doc. Our commander said he wanted to get all these NGOs on the "same sheet of music." With only our meager $5 million contribution, I told my colleagues that in the orchestra of cacophany that was the UN relief effort, KFOR (NATO forces) wanted to be the conductor but was only playing the harmonica.

Now lets put that into perspective: although the needs in Kosovo were great, it wasn't an emergency. We had all the time in the world and hundreds of relief organizations helping out. It was utter chaos. I don't think there is any disaster response that isn't ad hoc chaos and desperation.

If you read about the local government response to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, it's telling. They literally blew up buildings to create a fire break, and either the flames jumped the breaks or the explosions lit new fires.

Government may be useless in a disaster, but there's not much of a saving grace from the private or nonprofit sectors either. I think their have been few good examples of effective disaster responses.