How batsh*t-crazy do you have to be …

… to run for President as a Republican? Well, you have to say that FEMA should be abolished and disaster relief devolved to the states and the private sector.

No, seriously.

… (or at least pretend to be) to run for President as a Republican?

Well, you have to say that FEMA should be abolished and responsibility for disaster relief devolved to the states and the private sector.

No, seriously:

Congratulations to ThinkProgress for catching this. But it tells you something about the mainstream media that none of them picked up on it while gushing over Romney’s “victory” in the Battle of the Mental Midgets.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

19 thoughts on “How batsh*t-crazy do you have to be …”

  1. Among other things, isn’t it vastly cheaper for the Federal governmebt to handle disaster relief than for the states to do it? How much in the way of response teams and emergency supplies do we need, nationally? Cerytainly not enough to cover 50 disasters, but that’s what we’d get if we left it to the states. Unless some states decided to do nothing, and then the feds would have to step in anyway.

    I wonder what the business consultant in Romney would recommend?

  2. As Brad DeLong points out, Jacob Weisberg went ahead and held the debate to be a shining example of the GOP’s return to sensible centrism: “Primaries usually pull candidates to the margin, but the GOP is now experiencing a politically healthy course correction. Until recently the most evident forces were indeed pushing them away from the centre. We are now seeing an opposite shift, away from then margin, and toward the middle. For Mr Obama, this movement, and the outbreak of Republican sanity it signals, is a worrying development indeed.”

  3. Yes, seriously, why should people who live inland, for instance, bear the costs of folks who chose to live on coasts in buildings not up to withstanding a hurricane? What’s up with this obsession with collectivizing all the costs of private decisions?

  4. Maybe Mitt meant to say that in the interest of the people, FEMA be suspended during Rethug administrations. Maybe during those years the governnment can deploy the trust funds of the Romneys and fellow traveler multi-generational millionaire/billionaires to fund the cleanup of natural disasters.

    Just the start of the “Beyond Batshit Tour” aka the Rethug primaries!

  5. Hey Brett, I hate to break it to you, but doing it on the state level reduces the collectivization quotient by exactly 0%. If you don’t want the government doing this at all, that’s cool, but cut the fear of collectivization bullshit. You appear to want collectivization, so the argument is really about the details. Federal collectivization appears to be the option most people would prefer, for good empirical reasons.

  6. Well, Bernard Y., we’ve just had the spectacle of Obama doing nothing what-so-ever for Texas when it had huge wildfires, and declaring disaster for states which had been in his column when the events were of less magnitude. So if I were the governor of Texas, I might be willing to kiss FEMA goodbye to have control of my own state’s resources for my own disasters. If I were governor of Rhode Island, not so much.

  7. Now now…

    Let’s not be quick to judgement on this.
    Or at the very least we should run the numbers.

    The country has been split to hell anyways. I actually had an 80-year old neighbor say yesterday that if Obama gets elected she’d assassinate him herself. She’s a dedicated Fox News watcher. Up to her shrunken shoulders in “Fair and Balanced”. And yeah, she’s had a Limbaughtomy too. Seems to me we are a nation divided and torn. The Wurlitzer is getting ever louder and ever more divorced from global warming reality. And I don’t see us coming together anytime soon. Or solving much of anything anytime soon. Do you?

    I mean really, we’ve got President Hoover being told by a Congress of Hoovers that he is not Hooverish enough.
    This can’t end well can it?


    What states will be hurt most by the fracturing of FEMA’s national insurance policy and the American convenant?
    Natural disasters do tend to occur more often in certain places.
    Seems someone ought to be able to crunch out some likely stats…

    If it turns out it is red-neck alley — sloshingin Mississippi muck and pig sh*t — that gets the sharp end of the sling blade…
    Maybe it is best we do a little triage on our disintegrating empire:
    Damn the FEMA, full Romney ahead.

    My new motto: Turn Batsh*t into kool-aid!

  8. From The Life of Colonel David Crockett,
    by Edward S. Ellis (Philadelphia: Porter & Coates, 1884)

    Crockett was then the lion of Washington. I was a great admirer of his character, and, having several friends who were intimate with him, I found no difficulty in making his acquaintance. I was fascinated with him, and he seemed to take a fancy to me.

    I was one day in the lobby of the House of Representatives when a bill was taken up appropriating money for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer. Several beautiful speeches had been made in its support – rather, as I thought, because it afforded the speakers a fine opportunity for display than from the necessity of convincing anybody, for it seemed to me that everybody favored it. The Speaker was just about to put the question when Crockett arose. Everybody expected, of course, that he was going to make one of his characteristic speeches in support of the bill. He commenced:

    “Mr. Speaker – I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the sufferings of the living, if suffering there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Mr. Speaker, the deceased lived long after the close of the war; he was in office to the day of his death, and I have never heard that the government was in arrears to him. This government can owe no debts but for services rendered, and at a stipulated price. If it is a debt, how much is it? Has it been audited, and the amount due ascertained? If it is a debt, this is not the place to present it for payment, or to have its merits examined. If it is a debt, we owe more than we can ever hope to pay, for we owe the widow of every soldier who fought in the War of 1812 precisely the same amount. There is a woman in my neighborhood, the widow of as gallant a man as ever shouldered a musket. He fell in battle. She is as good in every respect as this lady, and is as poor. She is earning her daily bread by her daily labor; but if I were to introduce a bill to appropriate five or ten thousand dollars for her benefit, I should be laughed at, and my bill would not get five votes in this House. There are thousands of widows in the country just such as the one I have spoken of, but we never hear of any of these large debts to them. Sir, this is no debt. The government did not owe it to the deceased when he was alive; it could not contract it after he died. I do not wish to be rude, but I must be plain. Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much of our own money as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.”

    He took his seat. Nobody replied. The bill was put upon its passage, and, instead of passing unanimously, as was generally supposed, and as, no doubt, it would, but for that speech, it received but few votes, and, of course, was lost.

    Like many other young men, and old ones, too, for that matter, who had not thought upon the subject, I desired the passage of the bill, and felt outraged at its defeat. I determined that I would persuade my friend Crockett to move a reconsideration the next day.

    Previous engagements preventing me from seeing Crockett that night, I went early to his room the next morning and found him engaged in addressing and franking letters, a large pile of which lay upon his table.

    I broke in upon him rather abruptly, by asking him what devil had possessed him to make that speech and defeat that bill yesterday. Without turning his head or looking up from his work, he replied:

    “You see that I am very busy now; take a seat and cool yourself. I will be through in a few minutes, and then I will tell you all about it.”

    He continued his employment for about ten minutes, and when he had finished he turned to me and said:

    “Now, sir, I will answer your question. But thereby hangs a tale, and one of considerable length, to which you will have to listen.”

    I listened, and this is the tale which I heard:

    Several years ago I was one evening standing on the steps of the Capitol with some other members of Congress, when our attention was attracted by a great light over in Georgetown. It was evidently a large fire. We jumped into a hack and drove over as fast as we could. When we got there, I went to work, and I never worked as hard in my life as I did there for several hours. But, in spite of all that could be done, many houses were burned and many families made homeless, and, besides, some of them had lost all but the clothes they had on. The weather was very cold, and when I saw so many women and children suffering, I felt that something ought to be done for them, and everybody else seemed to feel the same way.

    The next morning a bill was introduced appropriating $20,000 for their relief. We put aside all other business and rushed it through as soon as it could be done. I said everybody felt as I did. That was not quite so; for, though they perhaps sympathized as deeply with the sufferers as I did, there were a few of the members who did not think we had the right to indulge our sympathy or excite our charity at the expense of anybody but ourselves. They opposed the bill, and upon its passage demanded the yeas and nays. There were not enough of them to sustain the call, but many of us wanted our names to appear in favor of what we considered a praiseworthy measure, and we voted with them to sustain it. So the yeas and nays were recorded, and my name appeared on the journals in favor of the bill.

    The next summer, when it began to be time to think about the election, I concluded I would take a scout around among the boys of my district. I had no opposition there, but, as the election was some time off, I did not know what might turn up, and I thought it was best to let the boys know that I had not forgot them, and that going to Congress had not made me too proud to go to see them.

    So I put a couple of shirts and a few twists of tobacco into my saddlebags, and put out. I had been out about a week and had found things going very smoothly, when, riding one day in a part of my district in which I was more of a stranger than any other, I saw a man in a field plowing and coming toward the road. I gauged my gait so that we should meet as he came to the fence. As he came up I spoke to the man. He replied politely, but, as I thought, rather coldly, and was about turning his horse for another furrow when I said to him: “Don’t be in such a hurry, my friend; I want to have a little talk with you, and get better acquainted.”

    He replied: “I am very busy, and have but little time to talk, but if it does not take too long, I will listen to what you have to say.”

    I began: “Well, friend, I am one of those unfortunate beings called candidates, and – ”

    “‘Yes, I know you; you are Colonel Crockett. I have seen you once before, and voted for you the last time you were elected. I suppose you are out electioneering now, but you had better not waste your time or mine. I shall not vote for you again.’

    This was a sockdolager… I begged him to tell me what was the matter.

    “Well, Colonel, it is hardly worthwhile to waste time or words upon it. I do not see how it can be mended, but you gave a vote last winter which shows that either you have not capacity to understand the Constitution, or that you are wanting in honesty and firmness to be guided by it. In either case you are not the man to represent me. But I beg your pardon for expressing it in that way. I did not intend to avail myself of the privilege of the Constitution to speak plainly to a candidate for the purpose of insulting or wounding you. I intend by it only to say that your understanding of the Constitution is very different from mine; and I will say to you what, but for my rudeness, I should not have said, that I believe you to be honest. But an understanding of the Constitution different from mine I cannot overlook, because the Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions. The man who wields power and misinterprets it is the more dangerous the more honest he is.”

    “I admit the truth of all you say, but there must be some mistake about it, for I do not remember that I gave any vote last winter upon any constitutional question.”

    “No, Colonel, there’s no mistake. Though I live here in the backwoods and seldom go from home, I take the papers from Washington and read very carefully all the proceedings of Congress. My papers say that last winter you voted for a bill to appropriate $20,000 to some sufferers by a fire in Georgetown. Is that true?”

    “Certainly it is, and I thought that was the last vote which anybody in the world would have found fault with.”

    “Well, Colonel, where do you find in the Constitution any authority to give away the public money in charity?”

    Here was another sockdolager; for, when I began to think about it, I could not remember a thing in the Constitution that authorized it. I found I must take another tack, so I said:

    “Well, my friend; I may as well own up. You have got me there. But certainly nobody will complain that a great and rich country like ours should give the insignificant sum of $20,000 to relieve its suffering women and children, particularly with a full and overflowing Treasury, and I am sure, if you had been there, you would have done just as I did.”

    “It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing to do with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by a tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means. What is worse, it presses upon him without his knowledge where the weight centers, for there is not a man in the United States who can ever guess how much he pays to the government. So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he. If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose. If twice as many houses had been burned in this county as in Georgetown, neither you nor any other member of Congress would have thought of appropriating a dollar for our relief. There are about two hundred and forty members of Congress. If they had shown their sympathy for the sufferers by contributing each one week’s pay, it would have made over $13,000. There are plenty of wealthy men in and around Washington who could have given $20,000 without depriving themselves of even a luxury of life. The Congressmen chose to keep their own money, which, if reports be true, some of them spend not very creditably; and the people about Washington, no doubt, applauded you for relieving them from the necessity of giving by giving what was not yours to give. The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution.”

    I have given you an imperfect account of what he said. Long before he was through, I was convinced that I had done wrong. He wound up by saying:

    “So you see, Colonel, you have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people. I have no doubt you acted honestly, but that does not make it any better, except as far as you are personally concerned, and you see that I cannot vote for you.”

    I tell you I felt streaked. I saw if I should have opposition, and this man should go talking, he would set others to talking, and in that district I was a gone fawn-skin. I could not answer him, and the fact is, I did not want to. But I must satisfy him, and I said to him:

    “Well, my friend, you hit the nail upon the head when you said I had not sense enough to understand the Constitution. I intended to be guided by it, and thought I had studied it full. I have heard many speeches in Congress about the powers of Congress, but what you have said there at your plow has got more hard, sound sense in it than all the fine speeches I ever heard. If I had ever taken the view of it that you have, I would have put my head into the fire before I would have given that vote; and if you will forgive me and vote for me again, if I ever vote for another unconstitutional law I wish I may be shot.”

    He laughingly replied:

    “Yes, Colonel, you have sworn to that once before, but I will trust you again upon one condition. You say that you are convinced that your vote was wrong. Your acknowledgment of it will do more good than beating you for it. If, as you go around the district, you will tell people about this vote, and that you are satisfied it was wrong, I will not only vote for you, but will do what I can to keep down opposition, and, perhaps, I may exert some little influence in that way.”

    “If I don’t,” said I, “I wish I may be shot; and to convince you that I am in earnest in what I say, I will come back this way in a week or ten days, and if you will get up a gathering of the people, I will make a speech to them. Get up a barbecue, and I will pay for it.”

    “No, Colonel, we are not rich people in this section, but we have plenty of provisions to contribute for a barbecue, and some to spare for those who have none. The push of crops will be over in a few days, and we can then afford a day for a barbecue. This is Thursday; I will see to getting it up on Saturday week. Come to my house on Friday, and we will go together, and I promise you a very respectable crowd to see and hear you.”

    “Well, I will be here. But one thing more before I say good-bye. I must know your name.”

    “My name is Bunce.”

    “Not Horatio Bunce?”


    “Well, Mr. Bunce, I never saw you before, though you say you have seen me; but I know you very well. I am glad I have met you, and very proud that I may hope to have you for my friend. You must let me shake your hand before I go.”

    We shook hands and parted.

    It was one of the luckiest hits of my life that I met him. He mingled but little with the public, but was widely known for his remarkable intelligence and incorruptible integrity, and for a heart brimful and running over with kindness and benevolence, which showed themselves not only in words but in acts. He was the oracle of the whole country around him, and his fame had extended far beyond the circle of his immediate acquaintance. Though I had never met him before, I had heard much of him, and but for this meeting it is very likely I should have had opposition, and had been beaten. One thing is very certain, no man could now stand up in that district under such a vote.

    At the appointed time I was at his house, having told our conversation to every crowd I had met, and to every man I stayed all night with, and I found that it gave the people an interest and a confidence in me stronger than I had ever seen manifested before.

    Though I was considerably fatigued when I reached his house, and, under ordinary circumstances, should have gone early to bed, I kept him up until midnight, talking about the principles and affairs of government, and got more real, true knowledge of them than I had got all my life before.

    I have told you Mr. Bunce converted me politically. He came nearer converting me religiously than I had ever been before. He did not make a very good Christian of me, as you know; but he has wrought upon my mind a conviction of the truth of Christianity, and upon my feelings a reverence for its purifying and elevating power such as I had never felt before.

    I have known and seen much of him since, for I respect him – no, that is not the word – I reverence and love him more than any living man, and I go to see him two or three times every year; and I will tell you, sir, if everyone who professes to be a Christian lived and acted and enjoyed it as he does, the religion of Christ would take the world by storm.

    But to return to my story. The next morning we went to the barbecue, and, to my surprise, found about a thousand men there. I met a good many whom I had not known before, and they and my friend introduced me around until I had got pretty well acquainted – at least, they all knew me.

    In due time notice was given that I would speak to them. They gathered around a stand that had been erected. I opened my speech by saying:

    “Fellow citizens – I present myself before you today feeling like a new man. My eyes have lately been opened to truths which ignorance or prejudice, or both, had heretofore hidden from my view. I feel that I can today offer you the ability to render you more valuable service than I have ever been able to render before. I am here today more for the purpose of acknowledging my error than to seek your votes. That I should make this acknowledgment is due to myself as well as to you. Whether you will vote for me is a matter for your consideration only.”

    I went on to tell them about the fire and my vote for the appropriation as I have told it to you, and then told them why I was satisfied it was wrong. I closed by saying:

    “And now, fellow citizens, it remains only for me to tell you that the most of the speech you have listened to with so much interest was simply a repetition of the arguments by which your neighbor, Mr. Bunce, convinced me of my error.

    “It is the best speech I ever made in my life, but he is entitled to the credit of it. And now I hope he is satisfied with his convert and that he will get up here and tell you so.”

    He came upon the stand and said:

    “Fellow citizens – It affords me great pleasure to comply with the request of Colonel Crockett. I have always considered him a thoroughly honest man, and I am satisfied that he will faithfully perform all that he has promised you today.”

    He went down, and there went up from the crowd such a shout for Davy Crockett as his name never called forth before.

    I am not much given to tears, but I was taken with a choking then and felt some big drops rolling down my cheeks. And I tell you now that the remembrance of those few words spoken by such a man, and the honest, hearty shout they produced, is worth more to me than all the honors I have received and all the reputation I have ever made, or ever shall make, as a member of Congress.

    “Now, Sir,” concluded Crockett, “you know why I made that speech yesterday. I have had several thousand copies of it printed and was directing them to my constituents when you came in.

    “There is one thing now to which I will call your attention. You remember that I proposed to give a week’s pay. There are in that House many very wealthy men – men who think nothing of spending a week’s pay, or a dozen of them for a dinner or a wine party when they have something to accomplish by it. Some of those same men made beautiful speeches upon the great debt of gratitude which the country owed the deceased – a debt which could not be paid by money, particularly so insignificant a sum as $10,000, when weighed against the honor of the nation. Yet not one of them responded to my proposition. Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain it.”

  9. ACT,
    I think 4,000 words might have been excessive. A summary and a hyperlink might have sufficed. I stopped reading it before I got to the moralizing lesson, on account of the whole 4,000 word thing.

    In any case, to the best I understood what the point was before I gave up on the presumably out-of-copyright(1) epic monograph you reproduced, it might interest you to know that Crockett lost his argument a long time ago now: the US government no longer lets widows and orphans starve in the streets as a matter of principle, especially not those left by the heroes of our wars. One-off payments to individuals of special merit or connections were of course not a proper solution, but neither is ignoring the plight of our fellow citizens. I realize you and your ilk oppose such policies, but so far I believe you remain in the minority.

    (1) Although not necessarily so; the author died long enough ago that their heirs probably have no interest, but if you copied the text from an edited version, or from someone’s electronic file, they might retain copyright on the version you copied.

  10. Yes, seriously, why should people who live inland, for instance, bear the costs of folks who chose to live on coasts in buildings not up to withstanding a hurricane? What’s up with this obsession with collectivizing all the costs of private decisions?

    Granny’s on her own, sick people are on their own, those suffering are on their own… dude, that’s brilliant. I’m searching for compassionate people with 45 mile-long driveways and extensive arsenals for my daughter to marry. Can I PM you?

  11. I have noticed that some people who live inland have recently experienced losses due to tornadoes and wildfires and, yes, floods (inland doesn’t mean not near water). Can you get further inland than Joplin, Missouri?

  12. Professor Kleiman, who banned Thomas for insults and has related incivility to the climate of violence (yet calls free-marketeers “teabaggers”), now calls the Republican candidates “mental midgets”. Why? Because they take positions different from his? This makes someone a “mental midget”? Bachmann (tax lawyer), Cain (Math BA, Information Science MS, board member, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City) are “mental midgets”? Really? True, they’re Christians (so were Isaac Newton and Thomas Aquinas). We all live with our childhood indoctrination. Including socialist college professors.
    I’d say the most seriously mentally deficient are those who (after twentieth century history) still see magic in the State’s coercive power.
    (Dan): “Granny’s on her own, sick people are on their own, those suffering are on their own… dude, that’s brilliant.
    Dan, you routinely misrepresent your opposition. If you tried to address the argument, you’d see where your own counter-argument falls apart. NOT(without State assistance = “on their own”). People have families, friends, employers, and voluntary associations. Tax-subsidized State (government, generally) programs displace these, and do a worse job.

  13. To offer a correction to Malcolm:
    _Some_ [p]eople have families, friends, employers, and voluntary associations.

    Some do not. I would argue that many do not in this age of bowling alone, but that’s a clock not easily turned back.

  14. If my mother needed to live with me I would make the room no matter how small my house. But if she needed heart surgery I would be hard pressed to come up with the money, as would most people, and it would be basically impossible if she had complications. Right now, I am dealing with my brother who is too sick to work (don’t argue the point, you don’t know him) and too ornery to do what needs to be done to secure benefits. So we help — but for how long, how much, and what if his sickness starts to require really expensive help?

    Basically, so long as we can get by with in-kind benefits, theoretically, people may be able to make do with a volunteer based strategy of help from friends and family. But that all crumbles when you have to come up with the cold hard cash necessary to pay a doctor. Just ask Sue “bring a chicken to the doctor” Lowden.

    Not to mention that there is a very significant economic downside to the volunteer approach that rarely gets mentioned: loss of mobility within the workforce. People who need to be close to their families are not going to relocate three or more states away. This isn’t just a loss to them, it’s a loss to our entire vision of how our economy, in particular, is supposed to remain vibrant.

  15. (Tom H): “Some do not. I would argue that many do not in this age of bowling alone, but that’s a clock not easily turned back.
    It was not easy to get into this mess, either. The US moved into this position in incremental steps (except for the 18th amendment to the Constitution). I differ from libertarians and Libertarians in that I usually prefer incremental adjustment to an assertion of categorical “rights”.
    As an aside, I wonder how people who profess to believe that democratic government somehow “represents” some aggregated “will of the people” reconcile that belief with their support for individuals whom no one will assist without State coercion. I mean, if no one who knows you wants to help you, maybe there’s a good reason.

  16. So you’re saying that if we don’t happen to have a big enough (and wealthy enough) family and dozens of well-off and compassionate friends, we must have personal flaws that make it our fault that individuals aren’t rushing to help us through? Sorry, Malcolm. The very point is that no one should have to rely upon the people they “know” to make it possible for them to live through disasters, natural or otherwise. Chances are most of one’s circle has been subjected to the same natural disaster we have and are facing the same recovery issues. Many of us have little or no family, and if we do, it’s not likely any of them are wealthy enough to finance our recovery. Friends may want to help, but frankly, most of us don’t actually know many people with large chunks of discretionary income they can bestow upon their friends and acquaintances in times of need.

    So again, you’re left with the wealthy who can self-finance recovery from natural disaster, expensive medical treatment, loss of property, etc. And the rest of us. Assistance should NOT depend upon our popularity, the wealth of those we happen to know, our affiliation with any particular group which might be able to provide “charity,” or any other individual circumstance. One can philosophize all one wants, but our citizens, each and every one, are either “worthy” of certain basic sorts of help simply because we ARE citizens, or it’s everybody for himself, and screw everybody who’s too old, young, disabled, weak, poor, or unequipped in whatever way to provide for their own recovery from cancer or hurricane.

  17. Look, there are three basic approaches to dealing with natural disasters;

    1. Don’t live where they happen. Of course, most places are subject to SOME form of natural disaster, but some areas are particularly dangerous, and choosing to live there should not be subsidized by people living in safer places.

    2. Build to account for local threats. In coastal areas you’ll see some houses up on pilings, with just storage underneath. Storm surge goes right under them, with minimal damage. Next to them are conventional structures, that get wiped off the face of the Earth by the same event. Why are the people who chose to live in the former paying for the latter group’s houses to be replaced? Similar arrangements are possible for earthquakes, wildfires, tornadoes, (Yes, there are house designs that shrug off tornadoes.) but not, say, lava flows.

    You should build to the local threats, or pay appropriate insurance rates, or expect to be impoverished if your betting against the odds doesn’t pay off.

    3. Live in dangerous areas, don’t adapt to them, and expect other people to pick up the bill. Why is this the preferred ‘liberal’ approach to the problem? I think it’s got something to do with finding personal accountability offensive.

  18. (Brett): “…What’s up with this obsession with collectivizing all the costs of private decisions?
    (Dan): “…Granny’s on her own, sick people are on their own, those suffering are on their own…
    (Malcolm): “…NOT(without State assistance = ‘on their own’). People have families, friends, employers, and voluntary associations. Tax-subsidized State (government, generally) programs displace these, and do a worse job.
    (Bev): “So you’re saying that if we don’t happen to have a big enough (and wealthy enough) family and dozens of well-off and compassionate friends, we must have personal flaws that make it our fault that individuals aren’t rushing to help us through? Sorry, Malcolm. The very point is that no one should have to rely upon the people they ‘know’ to make it possible for them to live through disasters, natural or otherwise.
    I addressed Dan’s point, which was not about widespread disaster, but ageing and illness.

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