In the wake of hurricane Irene, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is expected to come hat in hands asking for more money from Congress. Like the rest of the federal government, it is broke. It has been suggested that any additional funds allocated to FEMA should come from cuts elsewhere. This seems harsh and lacking in compassion to big-government advocates who do not understand economics, but I would go a step further. FEMA should never have been established. It is based on misguided ideas of disaster relief.
This seems shocking to those who have never been subjected to the secondary disaster that is the arrival of FEMA on the scene of a catastrophic event. But explaining FEMA’s ineptness is not the same thing as saying no one should help people affected by disasters. Quite the opposite.
Victims of disasters should get any and all help
possible, and there is virtually no limit to the generosity and
compassion of good American people after devastation hits. One only
need to remember the outpouring after Katrina to know this is true.
FEMA, however, did more to get in the way of relief than to actually
provide and facilitate it. The examples are numerous. When the call
was put out for volunteer firefighters, they volunteered by the
thousands. It was FEMA, for reasons of control and bureaucratic
ineptitude, who made sure they were not, in fact allowed to actually
help. When a group of firefighters arrived from
It has only gotten worse since 9/11. Compare the
stories of two flotillas – one after 9/11 and one after Katrina. Within
an hour of the 9/11 attacks, the largest boatlift in history was
organized spontaneously by locals who saw an immediate need and
responded immediately. Over 500,000 terrified New Yorkers were taken
off the island by ferries, tugboats, pleasure crafts, fishing boats and
barges when all other access points had been shut down. A similar
flotilla attempt was privately organized after Katrina. 500 boats
The establishment of FEMA is symptomatic of a blind belief in big government's ability to do anything and everything for anyone and everyone. FEMA is a bureaucratic organization. Bureaucracies, while staffed with well-meaning people, are notoriously slow and wasteful by their very nature. When people are starving, injured and dying they need speed and efficiency, yet FEMA comes along with forms and policies and rubber stamps. This sort of thing is bad enough at the DMV, but in matters of life and death where seconds count, this is just not acceptable.
True compassion would be to get FEMA out of the way.