The people's voice of reason

Disaster Relief

After witnessing the inefficiencies and abuses of government-run programs, it is no surprise that government is grossly inept at providing adequate help to the victims of natural disasters—i.e. earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and of course the three devastating hurricanes we have suffered this year.

Disaster relief, like practically every government program, is not only inept, but is much more expensive than relief provided by the private sector via charities and volunteers. And to make matters really bad, it often comes with reams of regulations, mandates, and interferences that give the value of the aid a smaller value than no aid at all.

Let’s start with Katrina in Pascagoula, Mississippi in 2005. Like much of the Gulf Coast, Pascagoula is poorly elevated and has a maximum elevation of only 17 feet—slightly less than Katrina’s storm surge. The great majority of houses, if not damaged or destroyed, were seriously flooded. Soon, FEMA came and set up trailers for temporary housing.

After a few days of trauma, the people began to clean up and repair their damaged homes. For the first week or two, the fortunate residents who did not suffer extensive damage were able to get permits to repair them and move back in.

But repairing seriously damaged homes and replacing destroyed ones was much more problematic. The city quickly adopted a new super-strict building code modeled after one in Florida. The homeowners had to comply with a jungle of new regulations, expensive permit fees, and purchase $200 “elevation certificates.” Many were unable to rebuild at all and suffered heavy financial losses. As they settled for the last resort of moving into the FEMA trailers, the city commission reaped additional federal dollars for each new family that moved in.

The city wasted no time violating the people and their private property. As soon as the storm had subsided, it condemned 200 homes and bulldozed 80 in the first week, and by the end of September, 150—claiming they were “a menace to the public.” Few people had time to salvage any belongings that survived.

Meanwhile in New Orleans and other places, FEMA placed its temporary housing in flood zones, boarded evacuees in $400 per night hotel suites, issued $2000 debit cards and relief checks to about a million nonexistent people and bogus applicants, and seized firearms from residents attempting to protect their property from looters.

In disasters everywhere, officials—federal, state or local—are often more of a nuisance than a help. They are known to stop or hinder voluntary relief and rescue efforts as well as refuse to let people return to their property and let them repair their damage. In some cases, they even arrested and prosecuted residents who disagreed or objected.

In earlier times, people did very well with no assistance from any level of government. Volunteers are much more efficient. Volunteers know what the victims actually need. Volunteers have no strings attached. Volunteers do not force people to leave their property and allow it to be subject to looting. Volunteers do not impose fines or penalties for “noncompliance.” Volunteers do not condemn or destroy property.

As an example, after the devastating hurricane of 1900, the people in Galveston, Texas rebuilt their city without a nickel of government help.

Any rational person should understand that disaster relief is NOT a legitimate government activity, nor is it Constitutional. It is a massive money pit and a violation of our individual rights. It is one of many government programs we are better off without.

Congressman Ron Paul said, “It's not compassionate simply to throw money at a problem, especially when that money is wasted and does not help the very people who need it most. It's not compassionate for politicians to spend money that doesn't belong to them. It's not compassionate to instill false hope that Washington can solve every problem and respond to every emergency. It's certainly not compassionate to create huge deficits that hurt poor people the most through inflation, as government prints more and more money to pay its bills.”


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