Kansas City Star: Tornado response shows it's time to re-think the way we run America

An editorial in the Kansas City Star yesterday makes some interesting points about responding to short-term disasters, preparing for long-term disasters, and problem of money.

... it hardly requires an expert to behold the devastation in Joplin and see that, while charitable resources are essential, private donors will not be able to fund all that is needed. Joplin needs new school buildings, a new power grid, massive work on its hospital. And that's only the beginning.

This brings us to a rather shameful debate now taking place in, of course, Congress.

To its credit, a key House panel has approved an additional $1 billion in federal relief money to respond to a spring of natural disasters. But as soon as cries for help were heard, lawmakers pounced on the chance to make partisan points.

House Republicans are starting to demand that disaster relief funds be balanced with cuts in other areas of federal spending, essentially using human tragedy to advance their political agenda. One suggestion is that we should cut a program encouraging the production of more fuel efficient cars, a program brought about by economic and long-term national security concerns.

Here's the big picture: If the United States is to the point at which helping disaster victims means cutting other needed programs, it's time to rethink the way we're running this country. Today, Americans have the lightest total tax burden they've had since 1958. One result of that low tax burden, and the resulting inadequate federal and state revenue, is that the Federal Emergency Management Agency faces a $3 billion shortfall. And that's before the Joplin bills arrive.

Overly optimistic projections during good times brought us to this point. Pandering politicians agreed to tax cuts that this country could not afford. But that's the past. Going forward, we must be able to agree it is un-American to scramble and bicker over priorities every time nature strikes.

Via SharkFu


  1. Long term reconstruction should be, at most, a State issue and not a Federal issue. Taxpayers in one state should not be forced to fix buildings in another state. That especially applies to long term projects in disaster prone areas.

    There’s a reason I don’t live in the hurricane belt or in earthquake territory. And if I did, I wouldn’t expect someone halfway across the country to pay for my decision to live in such an area and the risks it brings.

    When the Federal government guarantees (to a degree) the reimbursement of natural disaster damage to an area, it provides a perverse incentive to continue populating there. Remember: people respond to incentives.

    1. You know that we are Americans, right? AMERICANS! Not South Carolinan’s. Not Ohioian’s or Californian’s.

      It attitudes like the “Well, they deserve it because they’re stupid to live there” is why we are in such a selfish partisan place right now.

      Maybe they’re not as rich or well off to live in such a safe and snug place as yourself. Maybe the only jobs they can find are in the Rust Belt or the South or other places which aren’t as safe as others. There could be family concerns.

      Such a lack of empathy is appalling to say the least.

      If there was an epidemic in Boston that were killing off 50% of the population would you except Californians to say “Ahh, Let’em die. They are in Boston. We’re not going to help.”

      You know Federal money comes from everyone within our borders of the US, right? “Well, I don’t want MY tax money to go to the poor people in the MidWest where they is flooding. Let them move out or die”.


    2. Hey! Stop giving Boston a bad name!

      Anyway, we allow gay marriage here — you know God’s gonna smack us with a series of natural disasters as soon as He gets around to it.

    3. My family lives along the gulf bend of Texas and my father and grandfather worked in petroleum processing that makes all sorts of nifty materials that in all likelihood you benefit from every day. In the ~100 years that my family has lived there one hurricane has caused serious damage to the city. Should they abandon the city because of the remote but very real risk of a natural disaster?

      Should we abandon petroleum processing on the gulf coast, farming near rivers, shipping from port cities, etc because of risk of natural disaster? If that were the case then there would be nearly zero uninhabitable land, and certainly not enough productive land to sustain society.

      TL/DR- You sir are quite shortsighted.

    4. Are you familiar with the concept of an “Unemployment Vortex”? That’s a city or county with such poor job prospects that you cannot reasonably earn enough money to leave. Basically, you scrape by for years until you have enough to rent in a better place and then load your meager possessions into a friend’s van. Or you buy a Greyhound bus ticket and hope for the best.

      If at any point during this process a natural disaster occurs, you never leave. All of the above is a best-case scenario available only to the young.

    5. Holy shit, it only took two comments for the victim blaming to begin. Aren’t you awesome?

    6. We, as a country, provide assistance to disaster victims because it’s what makes us a nation, and it’s what we would want other people to do for us if we were in the same situation. It’s easy to say that the people of Missouri (and the rest of Tornado Alley) put themselves in harm’s way by living where they do, and that we should not be responsible for their problems, but that is neither realistic nor compassionate. The people of the central US contribute greatly to our nation, both economically and culturally. It is the there where much of our manufacturing, farming and domestic energy production takes place. When New York was attacked on 9/11 did the nation say “that’s their problem”? No, we stood as Americans then and we stand as Americans with Joplin and the other communities affected by this particularly tragic tornado season.

      It’s a shame that disaster relief, along with other critical functions like national security, education and ensuring the health of older Americans have become so politicized. I think if we all took a step back and thought about why we have the government that we do, we’d start to appreciate it more. When asked whether government spending should be reduced, most people think it should. When asked about specific programs however, very few people are willing to cut the programs that most of our tax dollars go to support. This current debate has devolved in to an obsessive focus on reducing the overall government spending at the expense of specific, necessary programs that keep America safe, competitive, and influential in the world. It’s a classic case of not seeing the forest for the trees. Those who want to drastically cut spending are tearing this country apart, and destroying what made us great in the first place. It is not just the individual liberties that sets America apart, but our ability to come together, to work for a greater good, that has made us the greatest nation in the history of the world. Our government is not some thing that exists outside of us, it is us. It is the sum of our decisions to find ways to work together, to put aside our personal, immediate interests in favor of our long-term interests as a nation. That’s why we should not, in times of trouble, simply abandon each other, or look to shirk our individual responsibilities. Instead we should be saying “What more can I contribute?” and “How can I help?”

      1. I don’t have a problem helping others and I agree with you.

        Why are we always reactive instead of being proactive? Earthquakes zones get better building codes, Florida has it’s own set of building codes for hurricanes and the like.

        It’s cruel to say, but now that a town has been leveled lets rebuild it better than before. If that means a few more dollars spent then so be it. The next time around it shouldn’t be as bad.

    7. A state issue? Surely you jest! Why should people from across the whole state pay for a mishap in one section?

      A whole region of the state? Good grief, why should people in city A help people in city B next door?

      A whole city? Are you mad? Why should the nice folks in Upperclass Hills help the rabble in Down’n’out?

      A whole block? Screw that- them what live on 3rd and DIckwit should look after their own selfs.

      Tell you what – how about we allow jerks like libertarians opt-out of contributing; in return they have to stay out of the real world – no using gubbmint built roads, breathing communal air, hooking up to power provided via publicly subsidised power lines, enjoying the socialist sunshine etc.

    8. If you didn’t know this, the United States is the most disaster-prone country on the planet. Tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, blizzards, flooding…you name it, and the US experiences it almost every year. Every region is affected – so the next time New England gets hit with a Nor’Easter that shuts down Boston don’t pretend the federal government doesn’t provide assistance. The only reason why the damage isn’t as bad here as you’ll see in third world countries is because of stricter building code standards and (drumroll)…a stronger emergency response protocol.

      Sure, states play a role in disaster management. But they can only do so much with their limited means. Moreover, damage to one area affects the entire US. If a state or region gets hit with a disaster, the entire US economy suffers from it (as all the folks above point out, every region provides vital goods and services that you take for granted every day). A prolonged reconstruction in Missouri can mean higher food prices, for example. This nascent “state’s responsibilities” tripe we’ve been hearing lately fails to take into account that no state is a figurative island, and that the reason why the US arguably is the greatest, wealthiest, most powerful nation in human history is because the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

    9. A natural disaster can happen anywhere. I live in central Illinois and there is a huge fault under the state does that mean that I should move just because there is a chance of an earth quake, not to mention there are tornadoes here as well. Where is it safe to live and how will the whole UNITED STATES OF AMERICA live in such a small area. It isn’t a state issue it is an American Issue. If the states are suppose to take care of them self’s than lets turn each state into its own country. (that is a joke by the way) I guess that we should all move to Boston…….

    10. I find some irony in your handle, ‘BostonMan’. Just a place to hang your hat, or do you identify with that city? While others here may argue that the poor can’t afford to leave more natural disaster-prone parts of the country, I’ll say that they don’t *want* to leave. Many take pride in their heritage; their sense of ‘place’ is part of who they are, often going back several generations. Yes, other parts of the country are beautiful and safer and may have more job opportunities, but not everyone defines their quality of life in that way. Those who chose to stay aren’t stupid – love, loyalty and identity hold them there.
      It’s home.

    11. Bostonman, apparently you are unaware of the numerous areas of Massachusetts, to include Boston, that received FEMA funding for the exorbitant cost of snow removal after the blizzard in January 2011. In fact, the State of Massachusetts had several flooding and blizzard events in 2010 for which they received FEMA reimbursement.

      Do some research.

      FEMA reimburses villages, towns, cities, states that are hit by ANY weather-related phenomenon when the damages exceed pre-established norms. You have to meet certain parameters, provide documentation, meet with inspectors, etc…this is no giveaway without restriction. No municipality or state can be fully prepared for what Mother Nature doles out; the costs can be devastating.

      Every state in the nation has received FEMA funds at some point or another. Your argument has no relevance.

  2. welcome to the fuck-you economy, the one where the highest earners and the corporate entities they control systematically bleed spending out of the federal government by reducing their taxes, and offer the above mentioned slogan to the sinking middle and lower classes. Fun.

  3. Err what about the fact that you benefit from the fact that they live in that area.

    The mid west is good farming country and presumably you eat food. If no one lived in the mid-west because of the risk of tornadoes and bad weather food prices would soar.

    So its in your interest to keep the mid west populated with at least the farmers and the infrastructure they need to exist.

  4. You should also rethink the way you build houses in what is called tornado alley.

    Curiously enough, while the hospital received heavy damage. The only people who died inside, died because they couldn’t breath for themselves and were doomed when the power cut out. They weren’t even killed by the debris, they suffocated.

    Solid buildings save lives and money when you’re in tornado alley, because destroyed windows and furniture can be replaced and roofs can be repaired. But when a house is gone, there’s nothing to left to repair … and nothing left to protect you from the tornado that’s causing that mess.

    You’re building earthquake-proof houses in earthquake-prone areas. Why do Americans treat tornadoes as if they were gods vengeance and nothing could possibly resist those?… Oh … wait …

    1. We have the technology already:

      New construction of a dome facility financed by FEMA

      From May 3: “This time, he has an example. One of the churches that survived last week’s tornadoes was a concrete dome structure built by the same Texas contractor, Monolithic Constructors, that built Boyt’s home.”

      Monolithic Domes:

  5. Turns out, most the declared FEMA emergencies are severe storms. If you count hurricanes and typhoons as a type of severe storm, then for all 10 FEMA regions, that accounts for around 75% of all declarations. Regardless of where in the country you are. So over the long haul, easy to see how it all evens out.


    I’m looking to see if I can find a map with the total federal money given out by FEMA, per region or state. Then I can compare it to the revenue generated by each region. Imagine they would correlate well, since disasters strike every part of the country, just think most are not news-worthy on a national level.

  6. If you want to see something on the Cassandra side of America, check out this tiny pre-tornado post in Joplin, which makes the modest suggestion that the city build a shelter in case of disaster.

    And the requisite Randian comments about the heresy of invoking the common good, just before the tornado hit.


    I wonder how many of the commenters may have changed their mind since. Does it really take the immediacy of a deadly disaster to get a right-leaning American to think about planning?

  7. We could pull a billion (10 billion, even) out of the military budget and nobody would even notice. With everybody screaming like loonies for cuts, why is it not even considered to cut the ridiculously bloated military budget?

    1. Ya don’t say. Glad someone mentioned what should be obvious. Let’s just pretend billions of dollars arn’t pissed away each and every month on bullshit occupations and wars. Chasing imaginary bogymen and policing the world is *much* more important than actually helping your own citizens in their own country. :-)

  8. “It’s time to re-think the way we run America”

    Sorry, this quote literally made me snort shitty American beer out of my nose. Not because it’s untrue mind you. It just strikes me as queer. I mean.. now? Like NOW we should re-think the way we run the country? As opposed to say, any other embarrassing time in out tattered country’s checkered past?

    What will the headlines be in 2015? They come door to door and anally rape us – The anal rapist program is taking away from music and art programs in schools – maybe, just maybe, it’s time we started rethinking the way we run America!

    Because, WE run it… Right?

    Again, don’t misunderstand me, I’m happy that blogs like Boingboing blog about “re-thinking America…” but we can either keep doing that until 2020 or we can start ignoring fucking bi-partisanship fairy-think and begin forcibly evicting the right-wing.

  9. Actually, Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans showed all this already. And it appears that no-one, particularly the right, took any notice at national level, indeed the disaster was merely used as an excuse for some rather nasty race-based gentrification. I think the newspaper is right, but I wonder what makes these disasters rather than Katrina the trigger to reconsider national priorities…

  10. Since VA Rep Eric Cantor (Republican, of course) is a driving force behind making the disaster assistance “paid for” I suggest we begin by permanently closing at least two military bases in Virginia. (Ideally, the two closest to his district.)

  11. (Rude expletive beginning with B.) Two things we do NOT need are any help from the federal government, and “liquidity” from the money masters. In case nobody has studied history, there was a major disaster in San Francisco in 1906. The city was back in business in two weeks, and within two years there was no remaining trace of damage. There were two differences in that scenario: there was no help from the federal level and almost none from the state level, and very few of the properties were mortgaged. The people and companies rebuilt with their own funds.

    1. San Francisco in 1906?

      how an example from this century?

      or at least an example that’s factually correct

      “During the first few days after news of the disaster reached the rest of the world, relief efforts reached over $5,000,000… The US government quickly voted for one million dollars in relief supplies which were immediately rushed to the area, including supplies for food kitchens and many thousands of tents that city dwellers would occupy the next several years.”

      “These relief efforts, however, were not nearly enough to get families on their feet again, and consequently the burden was placed on wealthier members of the city, who were reluctant to assist in the rebuilding of homes they were not responsible for. All residents were eligible for daily meals served from a number of communal soup kitchens and citizens as far away as Idaho and Utah were known to send daily loaves of bread to San Francisco as relief supplies as co-ordinated by the railroads.”

      “The earthquake was the worst single incident for the insurance industry before the September 11, 2001, attacks, and the largest U.S. relief effort ever to this day, including even Hurricane Katrina… The insurance payments heavily affected the international financial system. Gold transfers from European insurance companies to policyholders in San Francisco led to a rise in interest rates, subsequently to a lack of available loans and finally to the Knickerbocker Trust Company crisis of October 1907 which led to the Panic of 1907.”


      1. Agree.

        Also from the wiki, note the part about the Army. There’s a base right outside SF, they were instantly available to assist. “The Army also became responsible for feeding, sheltering, and clothing the tens of thousands of displaced residents of the city.” They helped fire and police, and in the aftermath, built “temporary” housing for 20,000 citizens. Some of the houses are still in use.


    2. Hey Jewels Vern, in addition to the factual inaccuracies that have already been pointed out, I’d like to clarify that there are only a few English expletives that begin with “B,” and even fewer that make sense in context, so you aren’t being very subtle here.

      I’m not particularly prone to breaking out the banhammer, but in the future, if you’d like to not force me to make an exception, you’ll refrain from implicitly (as well as explicitly) calling me, or anyone else, “bitch.”

      1. Maggie, I thought he meant “Balls”, as that denotes disbelief more than bitch, bought that could be my possibly gender based take.

        Jewels, you’ve been warned, next time use full expletives.

      2. The only contextual expletive that makes sense to me would be the excrement of male cattle that are not steers.

        Which is a good description of the rest of JV’s comment.

          1. I was assuming that it was ‘buggery buggery buggery buggery bollocks’.

      3. I read that as “bullshit”, which I think makes him sound less like a jerk (though, as others have pointed out, he’s still wrong).

    3. In reply to Jewels Vern

      Of course, your claims are untrue. I guess your argument is so weak, you have to resort to lies to try to support it.

    4. San Francisco in 1906 was a whole lot smaller and had much less infrastructure that needed to be replaced.

      If you live in a community of log houses it’s pretty easy to rebuild them if they burn down or get knocked down. Try that with any modern building, it requires a ton of material which most likely can’t just be chopped down a short distance out of town.

  12. The comments by my fellow citizen BostonMan highlights near perfectly why our nation is so screwed up…in summary, I take the comments to mean, “I have mine, so piss off MO.” When and how we bought into the shallow end of citizenship is no longer as vital as recognizing it for what is is, Anti-American.
    “We the People…”, not we the snatch and grab capitalists, not the what’s -in-it-for me-and-mine politicians, or those who think because mommy and daddy left them wealthy they are better than the children of the moms and dads who work damn hard and expect their kids to do the same. Hold on Joplin…the U.S. is coming! P.S. Boston is on a earthquake fault line…what do you say now BostonMan?


  13. The fact that there was barely an hesitation to give huge bailouts to a crowd of corporate highway robbers but that money is suddenly a problem when it comes to helping regular citizen not being blown to bits really is disturbing.

    There is so much hand-wringing and apologizing when it’s time to help lowly blue-collar people. It makes the well-accepted, ubiquitous culture of contempt against people who dare make less than 6 digit salaries painfully obvious. Why would it be considered downright evil to say outright “Robert is just a regular Joe, he’s expendable, it’s no big deal if he or his family dies; dime a dozen; shit happens…” but it’s totally acceptable to extend the sentiment to entire populations?

    You can see a nation as a network of states, provinces or counties OR you can see it as a large community of people. Healthy communities, healthy nations, care for the well-being of their members. People ought to have each other’s backs.

    It’s not fucking ‘socialism’ or bleeding heart whatnot, it’s just how humanity works best.

  14. Didn’t boingboing just post this recently? Slavoj Zizek talks about charity and government. . .

    I don’t make a lot of money and don’t have a lot left after each paycheck. But in the past year or two I’ve given what I can to the Red Cross for Japan, Haiti, and when Gabby Giffords was shot. But I’ve also given money to Planned Parenthood, a charity for organ transplant patients, an education-focused organization that helps Hispanic and Latino students, and charities dealing with border/immigration issues. These have all been politically fueled. Planned Parenthood faces huge funding cuts because of political action, Governor Jan Brewer in AZ severely cut our public health program and money to organ transplant procedures, our local school district is in a well-publicized battle over Mexican-American studies taught in schools, and we see politicians grandstanding about the Mexican-American border every week. In addition, I’ve given money to Kiva programs that support art projects I like.

    I am happy to give what I can and see my money support. But I don’t make enough to really put a dent into this need, and the need keeps growing. I feel it’s wrong and unethical for such desperation to exist and not be counteracted by government measures. Disasters are not political issues, and it’s ridiculous that things like health and reproductive choices, education, and humanitarian aid have been boiled down to money and politics as well.

  15. The real irony in all this is Southern and Midwestern states that have been hit by recent disasters have voted so overwhelmingly for Tea Partiers and Republicans who’ve made it their mission to limit the Federal Government. They’ve been responsible for cutting federal aid to victims of foreclosure and unemployment for states in the Northeast and on the Coasts. Yet when it’s the people of Texas or Tennessee or Missouri who need help, there’s no hesitation or discussion about the inconsistency of their positions.

    Living in these disaster-prone Red States is actually the smart choice: you can bitch and pay low taxes yet receive more from the Federal Government than you pay in:

  16. If only there was some kind of business arrangement where you pay a monthly or quarterly fee in case of an unlikely event happening and if it happens you get money back to rebuild. We could call it insurance or something.

    1. …and as usual, dumb lazy bubbas who can’t afford the fees deserve to be screwed? Lots of average, working families can’t afford to save for even a small safety cushion, including insurance.

      1. “Joplin needs new school buildings, a new power grid, massive work on its hospital. And that’s only the beginning.”

        Accepting that the role of the government is to help out the “dumb and lazy bubbas” who can’t purchase insurance is one thing, it doesn’t necessarily mean we have to accept the failure of the government here in the first place to adequately plan for disaster. Schools, hospitals, the power grid, these are all things that should have had contingency plans in place. Allowing our charity for our fellow man to be extended to covering bad political decisions discredits the entire enterprise. Much like the response to Katrina was a failure long before the storm ever reached landfall. The expectation that someone else will make us whole in case of disaster is a good way of explaining how things have been progressing in larger society over the past few years. I don’t think we should be encouraging this morally hazardous behaviour. As has already been noted, incentives are being responded too.

        1. Accepting that the role of the government is to help out the “dumb and lazy bubbas” who can’t purchase insurance is one thing, it doesn’t necessarily mean we have to accept the failure of the government here in the first place to adequately plan for disaster.

          That’s fair, but your initial post sounded a lot more like “it’s these folks’ problem for not purchasing insurance” than “it’s complicated”…

        2. Governments are generally lousy in planning for disasters. Why? Because it’s “wasted money” until you need it and it’s easy to cut corners in Disaster Preparedness as nobody will notice until it’s too late.

          I live in British Columbia, we’ll get a big one here one day too and I expect the response from the Government being roughly the same as it was in Japan: A whole lot of crickets.

          When I first moved here I looked at the plans the city etc. have and also at the geological stuff and I am pretty sure that half of Vancouver will be in rubble and the other half will have either fallen into the Pacific or burned to a crisp. The entire DR plan relies on Richmond Airport (YVR) being available for relief efforts which is a pipe dream as it is below sea level build on former marsh land. The odds of the levies not breaking or the ground liquifying is pretty slim to none (just look at Christchurch). The next airport out would be in Abbotsford and by my last count requires the crossing of three bridges. Even if they could fly supplies in it would take days to make sure they are structurally sound if they haven’t outright fallen down.

          My point here is this: Governments and citizens aren’t willing to spend on things they do not see a direct benefit for. DR preparedness is something that happens behind the scenes and most people do not think about that at all.

    2. … and if only there were a reality in which that insurance actually covered all the damage, including debris removal, and was able to pay for rebuilding things like schools and hospitals.


      Again, when did we decide that things like charity, compassion, and encouraging our government to do the correct things all become seen as character flaws, while greed, selfishness, and tribalism turned into positive traits?

      When? And why?

      Or has it just always been that way, and we were just better at hiding it?

  17. As a lifelong Missouri resident (who just went through tornadoes here in KC about an hour ago), thanks to all the others who slapped around BostonMan for us.

    It is his kind of, “Screw you, I got mine!” attitude that has absolutely destroyed this nation. Not gays. Not movies. Not video games. Not drugs.

    Selfishness and greed.

    Selfishness like the kind BostonMan displayed, in which compassion is seen as a weakness and there’s no concern for anyone not him or part of his tribe.

    And the greed of people like Eric Cantor, who happily voted for $6 TRILLION in debt while the GOP had complete control of the gov’t, but has now decided to ransom much needed assistance for our fellow Americans because … well, there’s simply no reason at all that makes sense. None.

    Cantor and the rest of the GOP never had a problem finding money to kill Middle Eastern brown people or give rich people a tax cut — yet he can’t manage to help Americans whose lives have been absolutely devastated.

    So a hearty “FUCK. YOU.” to both Cantor and BostonMan. You’re morally abhorrent and selfish worldviews are what are killing our country.

    (Sorry for the expletives. Hope that doesn’t get me banned. If wanted, I can star them out.)

    1. I’ll step in the way of the slaps going to BostonMan. Really, who is “we”, and why does America need to be “run” anyway?

  18. Americans have the lightest total tax burden they’ve had since 1958.

    That’s because we’ve been in a very nasty three year recession. The private sector has got to generate more taxable income if you want to see tax collections go up.

    1. Americans have the lightest total tax burden they’ve had since 1958.

      That’s because we’ve been in a very nasty three year recession. The private sector has got to generate more taxable income if you want to see tax collections go up.

      Actually, it’s because tax revenues as a percentage of GDP have been steadily cut, especially for those at the upper end of the scale. The result is both a diminishing of revenues and a shifting of the tax burden farther down the economic scale.

      But somehow I don’t think you want to be bothered with actual facts.

      1. I’ll offer you the same deal that I’ve offered here before.

        Take any peacetime year in our history (not my fault that Obama has kept all the wars going and started a new one all his won).

        Enact that year’s tax code. Not just the top rate. The whole tax code, top to bottom.

        AND reset government spending as a percent of GDP to what it was in that year (that’s why we use a peacetime year as benchmark).

        I believe we would both be delighted to watch the economy roar back to life.

  19. School Superintendent C.J. Huff said yesterday that the school buildings are fully insured.

    The power company NewMac Electric cooperative, has contingency plans including the Midwest Mutual Assistance group. Their biggest hurdle in restoring the power grid has been continued bad weather including thunderstorms and flooding.

    The health system that runs the St. John’s Regional Medical Center has already announced that it will be rebuilt. Presumably they have adequate insurance or are solvent enough as a self-insurer that this isn’t a vain boast.

    So it looks like federal money isn’t needed at all for the example problems that are too big to be solved by private charity. Not that there aren’t other problems, and not that actual or perceived federal authority can’t smooth the many petty bureaucratic hurdles to reconstruction.

    1. I expected as much. So essentially what we have here is a political editorial that misrepresents the facts to push their agenda reposted here with a little extra spin about “rethinking” how we run america because, well, just because I guess. And those dirty Republicans.

  20. I suggest anyone interested in this post should read the new novel by Albert Brooks, “2030”, which addresses this point precisely with satire and bite. The consequences (in the novel) of not being able to cover the cost of a natural disaster are terrifying and hilarious at the same time.

    I suspect when 2030 actually comes around we’ll all be shocked to find that the most prescient predictor of the future was not in some Institute About The Future or a winner of a Prestigious SciFi award, but a humble and funny comedian/filmmaker turned novelist.

  21. Oh, Boston Man; where to begin? First, I gotta ask, if you don’t like paying taxes, why do you live here?

    Next, it appears I must point out the obvious: tornadoes happen in just about every state. Add hurricanes , earthquakes and other disasters and pretty soon everyone’s holed up, scared out of their disco booties, in the house next to yours (because that must be a pretty safe place).

    We could follow on with what you suggest. We could cut off any federal money for red states -most of them get far more money from the Federal Government than they put in. Kids should only be educated if their parents can afford private school -if that doesn’t provide enough capable people for American business they can just outsource to India and China -America does not need to be strong, just the stock price. We could pay tolls to whatever company owns our street. Farmers too -just like them to farm right there in the center of the US heartland. In fact let’s shut government down, like Republicans want to do. Every man for himself!

    It’s actually OK with a lot of us that we can pool resources for the common good (even yours). A favorite writer of mine says this:

    We depend on each other. In our darkest or most vulnerable hours, government is often the most effective way to do that. Far from being evil, government is often a blessing, and instituting one and keeping it smart, capable, and accountable can be the most rational act of a sane society, and the most caring act of a compassionate one. We will not abandons the field to those who want government that is neither smart, nor capable, nor accountable. -Mark Rabbe

    1. Nice straw man sculpturing there.

      Between Somalia and North Korea there is a pretty broad range of positions on what the government should/should not be involved in. Most of us manage to fit on that continuum without necessarily occupying one extreme or the other.

    2. RE: Next, it appears I must point out the obvious: tornadoes happen in just about every state.

      Actually tornados are the only major disaster that has occurred in ALL 50 states.

      Emergency Services Instructor

  22. *Those who want to drastically cut spending are tearing this country apart*

    Please. Per-capita spending is much higher today than it was during the Clinton administration, during which I don’t recall having to constantly step over starving people in the streets. The position of the extreme left that any spending cuts will turn us into Somalia is as silly as the position of the extreme right that any tax increases will turn us into North Korea.

  23. As a Massachusetts resident, let me first say Bostonman does NOT speak for the majority of the state or the city. Let me just explain some things “boston” man. Did you forget the Big Dig, the federal highway system that builds and maintains 495 and 95, how the federal government gives us disaster money every year for snow removal, the fact that in Massachusetts we have tornadoes that we call microbursts, that Massachusetts is on a very active set of fault lines, that the entire Back Bay was created out of landfill with help from the federal government, that Cape Cod gets TONS of federal money, that a large amount of our biggest private businesses run on government contracts, that the Hancock Building brings in tons of federal money in security upgrades for Boston? Why don’t you rethink your policy you moron.

    To everyone else, it pains us deeply as Americans and we are doing everything we can to get together and try and get you back on your feet.

  24. Its called being broke. Get used to it, America. Two trillion plus for international banking bailouts and multi-million in no bid defense contracts and do things like that.

  25. I don’t want to pay because I don’t live in your country.
    I don’t want to pay because I don’t live in your state.
    I don’t want to pay because I don’t live in your town.
    I don’t want to pay because I don’t live in your neighborhood.
    I don’t want to pay because I don’t live on your street.
    I don’t want to pay because I don’t live in your house.

    Now who will help me get those damn kid off of my lawn?

  26. I live in Missouri. I actually live quite close to Joplin and have friends there. Tornadoes happen all across our country every year. There really isn’t a “safe” place to live anywhere. Here we have tornadoes. On the coast we have hurricanes. We have earthquakes. We have blizzards and floods, severe droughts, wildfires, and even attacks on our people that cannot be predicted. It’s no safer or more dangerous here than it is in just about any other place in the country. The odds of being involved in a destructive tornado are quite slim even in “tornado alley.” The Midwest pays taxes too. Don’t tell me I shouldn’t live in Missouri because it’s too “dangerous.” Maybe people shouldn’t live in Florida or California or New York or Louisiana or near rivers, oceans, places where it gets really cold or really hot, places people might want to attack, or anywhere an earthquake has or might someday happen and lets not help anyone who is unfortunate enough to fall victim to unpredictable inclement weather because they should’ve known better… Not exactly the attitude I want to think of when I think of Americans.

  27. Do yourself a favor sometime and read the comments on editorial/opinion stories at the KCStar website.
    Good for a laugh.

  28. I’m surprised no one has yet mentioned that nine billion dollars went missing in Iraq and is totally unaccounted for, according to a Pentagon audit. That was over and above the fifty three (!!!) billion that Congress authorized to rebuild Iraq.

    According to the report, the Pentagon is unable to fully account for $8.7bn of funds it withdrew between 2004 and 2007, and of that amount it “could not provide documentation to substantiate how it spent $2.6bn”.

    US ‘fails to account’ for Iraq reconstruction billions

    This would seem to make 1 billion for American citizens on American soil a paltry sum in comparison. Yet I don’t recall any draconian spending cuts being necessitated by any of these missing billions. Apparently, we can spend 62 billion in Iraq without batting an eyelash, but rebuidling Missouri is beyond our means.

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