“Stupid FEMA Trucks”

By now we have all been reminded, through various statements he has made in the past, how Mitt Romney feels about FEMA and firemen and policemen, about those faces of government that folks in a heap of storm trouble rely on, in this complex society, whether the need is rescue, recovery, or rebuild.

We know all about that in Joplin. More than a dozen federal agencies were on the ground here after our tornado, and in our community of about 50,000 folks, more than 800 FEMA employees were doing their thing here, so much so that people normally a little suspicious of government, like the president of our Chamber of Commerce, said,

FEMA was an absolute champion.

Millions upon millions of dollars from American taxpayers have flowed into this area for all kinds of purposes, from housing to debris removal. President Obama has been here two times, pledging each time to keep government’s commitment to partner with private efforts to get Joplin back on its feet.

As we see the horrendous pictures on television of the destruction brought on by a much larger storm than the devastating Joplin tornado, as we see government workers of all kinds on the ground doing what it is they do in the wake of such destruction, we should remind ourselves of how strong is the anti-government spirit that animated Mitt Romney to say “we cannot afford” to do the kinds of things that those government workers, firemen, cops, and, yes, FEMA folks, are now doing all over the Sandy-ravaged Northeast.

Or animated Romney to say, in the context of FEMA and disaster relief:

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. 

That anti-government spirit is strong, indeed. Last year, the popular conservative, Glenn Beck, announced that he was going to bring ordinary people, including religious leaders, together to, as one report put it,

step up and help the less fortunate by providing goods and services for the poor and for people who are faced with a disaster like Hurricane Katrina or the Joplin, Missouri tornado.

“God forbid if there is a Joplin or Katrina,” Beck said. “If we have done our job so well that when the stupid FEMA trucks come rolling down, we say ‘Man, turn around, push off,’ that’s when Man will be free again.”

Stupid FEMA trucks.” I wonder how many Glenn Beck, anti-government conservatives in the path of Hurricane Sandy feel that way about FEMA trucks today?

Locally, here where FEMA and the federal government has played such a crucial role in our post-tornado recovery, a local blogger, a man who sometimes writes the in-house editorials for the Joplin Globe , a man who is often a guest Globe columnist, wrote earlier this year:

America was great because of the lack of government controls, by and large. I want to go “back” to that principle and simply allow government to do the minimum needed to prevent anarchy. Otherwise let the “people” sort it all out on their own. I don’t care how “complex” society becomes. The Constitution is so basic to any society that it will work fine regardless of new technology.

As for “needs” of people, That has NEVER changed in history. And by and large the Constitution ignores those needs other than defense against foreign “needs”.

Give people freedom and they will by and large as a nation do fine.

This writer, again a man with a voice on the Joplin Globe’s editorial page, including authoring some of its own editorials, said he wants to go back to a time when there was just enough government to “prevent anarchy.” Let people “sort it all out on their own,” he said, no matter how “‘complex’ society becomes.”

Hmm.

Give people freedom,” this writer says, and “by and large” they’ll do just fine.

By and large. I wonder, as I see folks all over the Northeast in shock at what has happened to them, what has happened to their communities, if they are by and large doing just fine. I wonder if all those storm victims, including conservative ones, want to sort it all out on their own. I wonder if those victims long for a shoestring government just big enough to prevent anarchy.

Yes, I wonder.

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12 Comments

  1. The problem with “free market charity” in our hyper-capitalist society is that they guys with the funds and the theoretical organizational infrastructure to administrate FEMAesque rescues would rather buy an additional house or a new yacht or send a big bank roll to the Caymans than save a flooded neighborhood. In the case of churches, there’s that new gymnasium to be built or the $700,000 for the pipe organ repair fund, or the rocket ship launch to the planet Kolob. They don’t have the available funds, but maybe after they payoff the Senior Pastor’s new BMW. Maybe then. Our private sector is too selfish to concern itself with assisting in time of trouble. Beck is a dope and a liar and a con man — and we all know it. And he knows it. And Mittens knows he, himself is a con man. Thanks, President Obama and FEMA, for the good work — in spite of the criticism from former FEMA genius, Michael Brown. God have mercy on our stupid selves.

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    • The fact that Michael Brown would even open his mouth on the subject of FEMA indicates even further just how dumb a pick George Bush made.

      And despite the necessity of volunteerism and charity, they are not sufficient to take care of all the needs of a complex society like we have. Not even close.

      Obama made a good point the other day standing with Christie. He made sure to thank the congressmen and senators present who voted to keep FEMA funded at a high level. Without them, there wouldn’t be a  FEMA to talk about.

      Duane

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  2. RDG,
    The” Severe Conservative” Romney referred to federal disaster relief as “immoral.” The current incarnation has taken a vow of silence as to FEMA’s iniquity. Amanda Henneberg, a campaign spokesperson, issued a statement saying that Romney will always ensure the availability of disaster relief funding. It remains an unknown if Ms. Henneberg was quoting Romney directly or relying on frantic hand signals from Press Secretary Rick Gortka. For the record, Romney has never stated that he would shut down FEMA if elected, but it is apparent “Severe Conservative” Mitt viewed the agency as a decadent entity. Perhaps his “immoral” estimation of the federal disaster relief agency was in reference to how Mike “Brownie” Brown, former President GW Bush’s FEMA Director, half-heartedly coordinated operations during Hurricane Katrina. Brown weighed in ongoing Hurricane Sandy relief efforts, criticizing FEMA’s response as being “too quick.” Why he offered his opinion is another unknown, since his opinion is obviously void of competent disaster relief expertise.

    The local editorial quoted would have made more sense had the author thrown in relevant passages from ‘”The Lord of the Flies” as Constitution-inspired examples of how allowing devastated communities to “sort it out on their own” will “by and large” let freedom ring, etc.

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    • John,

      Just what would make Brownie think he was doing himself and the country a service by saying anything related to FEMA is beyond me. I just wish he would have been put on every newscast in the country to remind people of how the Republican Party does federal disaster relief.

      Golding’s eerie story describes exactly the results of Tea Party philosophy, should Americans ever completely succumb to its sales pitch. Civilization requires grownups, and that Joplin Globe editorial needed some grownup input.

      Duane

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  3. writer89

     /  October 31, 2012

    I never would have guessed that climate change would be responsible for putting the final nail in the Libertarian coffin.

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    • While that will be the long-term effect of climate change, I’m afraid the libertarian spirit will be alive and well for some time.

      And I for one don’t wish that spirit to die completely. We occasionally need to be reminded what awaits us if we fail to tend to civilization.

      Duane

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  4. Writer –
    I think the other problem with the “Libertarian coffin” — nails aside — is it has always been full of worm holes like callousness, greed, and racism.

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  5. RDG,
    I read today that Mitt Romney has decided to remove the Cone of Silence and embrace FEMA. The photos of President Obama and Gov. Christie working together on disaster relief efforts, plus Obama’s high public approval numbers for displaying responsiveness and competent leadership during the crisis, prodded the former venture capitalist into sharing a last minute epiphany; another example of Romney’s deeply imbedded core values on parade.

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