Almost everyone I’ve talked to says, ‘We’re going to move to Houston.’ What I’m hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality.
And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this, this is working very well for them. — Barbara Bush, Larry King 2005
I’ve laid off commenting on Hurricane Katrina, or rather the human response to it, up until now. I suppose that I’ve just not really had anything to add to the subject that seemed worth typing. While I’ve had a couple of friends who have been affected (to say the least) by it, I can’t say that I know any more about the situation than anyone else who’s not directly involved. My friends have no weighed in with any sort of political comments, and I don’t really expect them to (when your lives undergo major changes, I think politics take a back seat). However, Angela and I had some discussion last week sometime and I’ve been thinking about the interaction between natural disasters and the federal government since; something that goes beyond Hurricane Katrina to the larger context of how America will be prepared to respond to natural disasters in the future.
Although the former First Lady was referring the victims of Hurricane Katrina in the quote above, I think that the Republican party might be in the same boat. While everyone is lamenting on how bad things look for them, perhaps theres a silver lining. The true Reagan Republicans are in the position to reap massive long-term benefits from this storm and the current administrations actions afterwards. They now have a perfect example of big governments failure to point to and quote Reagan:
The ten scariest words in the English language are ‘I’m from the federal government and I’m here to help.’
Further, they have the added benefits of being able to all but completely terminate federal social programs. By spending federal moneys on hurricane repair (hardly anything I’m complaining about) without “raising taxes″, they can assure themselves that these programs will simply die of neglect. After sometime of the programs doing nothing from lack of funds, the Republicans can point and say that their mere existence is wasted federal money and kill them off completely. In our attention-deficit society, it will be long since forgotten if these programs ever did anything effective.
I don’t really give anyone (from either party) the credit for planning this sort of thing. However, that’s the thing with a windfall. You don’t plan for it, you just make use of it when it happens. Sadly, the same impoverished Americans who are getting hit the hardest from the hurricane will also suffer in the long run. I feel strongly that the federal government has not the right, but rather the duty to help the people during times of disaster as well as in the daily lives of Americans. The government should not be a web woven into our lives, but it can and should be a net through which no American falls through. We need to keep a close watch to ensure that the social programs stay in tact, whether they are for responding to natural disasters, threats on public safety, or simply assisting the Americans who are unlucky enough to fall at the end of the curve.
10-21-2005 Update: And so it begins…