Hurricanes are a big deal. No doubt about it. They are large, they are powerful, and they are scary. The wind and wave damage cause giant headaches, even when every person makes it through unscathed. Dealing with a major disaster like a hurricane is a great stressor on the entire country.
FEMA can get stretched to the limit when any hurricane blasts through an area. Add in a winter storm, high tide, and a huge population, and it can take weeks before an area settles back down into business as usual. If only there were some way to speed up that process; to get people back to work, and the economy back up and running.
But maybe there is. Mr. Romney is gung-ho on the ability of private business to step up so that government does not need to step in. If he’s serious about the feds returning power to the states, and the states returning power to the people, now is the time to prove that the people are capable.
Mr. Romney can call all of his CEO buddies at Home Depot and Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and K-Mart. Anybody and everybody who stocks any supplies that might be useful or necessary in a hurricane-stricken area. Have them ship truckloads of whatever is needed to help the people who have been hit by Sandy: chain saws, water, blankets, food, lumber, anything and everything to clean up the cities and get them back up and running. Everything that FEMA will eventually get around to sending, but doesn’t have the resources to do as quickly.
Of course, Mr. Obama will have the chance to claim that Mr. Romney is politicizing the storm when Mr. Romney comes yeehawing up the coast, straddling his John Deere tractor, leading his army of private suppliers, but that’s the price to be paid for success. There’s even the potential for partnership, here. Done right, FEMA opens the landfills, Mr. Romney and his troops swoop in and vacuum the streets, and the state and local governments get the electricity back on.
A private-public partnership would relieve the stress on an over-stretched FEMA and weary linemen in eight states. It would also do a great deal toward relieving the minds and bellies of stranded citizens.
And how else is Mr. Romney to show the efficacy of his proposed privatization of certain services? Wouldn’t it be much easier to convince people that greed actually is good, when it is used to save taxpayer money by taking care of the necessaries at the local level? Mr. Obama won’t have to scrape the bottom of the decimated federal barrel, private businesses will not be out-sourcing the clean-up campaign, and people will be able to get back to normal much more quickly than otherwise. Think of the irony. Mr. Romney and his team setting things right in the middle of federal la-la land.
As Sandy slows wends her way inland, then back out, or wherever she’s headed, Mr. Romney and his convoy can follow along behind at a safe distance. Start down the coast as far as need be, restoring life to communities lickety-split before moving further north. If Mr. Romney focused on clean-up, then Mr. Obama’s minions could put all their energies into getting the polls back up and running, running buses back and forth so people could get in that all-important early vote.
Of course, everything won’t be perfect. Of course someone, somewhere is going to get hurt and sue. Of course, some piece of red tape will surface in just the right place to clog the whole machine at some critical juncture. But our choice here isn’t between nothing and Utopia. That’s the stuff of federal fantasy. We are talking about the real lives of millions of people, who would like nothing better than for their lives to resume the course they were taking this time last week, and the presumed ability of the rest of the country to get them back on their feet as quickly as possible.
Of course, if Mr. Romney were to step in and get service up and running, the specter of Katrina would raise her ugly head. “Where was Romney when we needed him here?” Well, folks, he wasn’t running for high office then, he didn’t have the resources and backing that he does now, and where is it written that, because a man does well in the present, that we should shoot him in the back for what he didn’t do earlier? After all, Mr. Obama was alive and kicking then, also. He had the same opportunity that everyone else in the country did to ride to the rescue.
And, Mr. Obama has had four years to decide that FEMA is the most important federal agency. That disaster relief tops the list of federal projects. We all know that climate change is going to make hurricane Sandy look like a slight rise in high tide. We all know that every city on every coast is in danger. For some reason, the fix for all that mess has been outsourced to private companies, while the feds continue to encourage people to construct large communities within inches of the oceans, spurred on by taxpayer-backed flood insurance. Seems a little bit backward to me. Seems like the feds would be encouraging us all to step back just a bit from the ocean’s doorstep and rethink where we are installing our next high rise.
Until that happens, though, let’s deal with where we are. If privatization is the way to go, Mr. Romney, show us the path. Demonstrate to Mr. Obama the error of his ways. Put the good of the country above personal concerns. Then, whether you win or lose, all the Republicans in the dead-locked Congress will have a stronger leg to stand on when they claim that the federal government doesn’t have to do absolutely everything.
Let’s all grab our shovels, and wait for our marching orders. Should be coming down the pike any time now.
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