Thursday, October 25, 2007

Congress or Community?

It is a basic tenet of Libertarian philosophy that the best government for the smallest community is the smallest community. In the wake of the tragic California wildfires, we are seeing the truth of this belief in the evacuation centers, such as QualCom Stadium. In dealing with the misery of losing property and belongings, and of being displaced, we see a wonderful example of the human spirit and the power of the community coming together.
When a crisis arises in a community, it is human nature that the members of that community pull together, to help each other out. This is what happened at QualCom, in San Diego. Clowns and pets entertained the children, and people went out or their way to give children crayons and paper or coloring books to keep them busy, and to help lift their spirits.
The atmosphere was described by one reporter as being like a "street festival." People were helping people keep their minds off of their predicament, and spreading friendship, sympathy, and empathy. The citizens of the community took personal responsibility to do their part in making sure everybody found as much comfort as possible under the circumstances.
It wasn't a government agency that donated food, clothing, water and other items of need. It was that "evil corporate slavemaster," Wal-Mart/Sam's Club. Not only did they deliver goods to all of the evacuation centers, but they also donated one million dollars to the Red Cross for relief operations.
Nor was it a government agency that thought about the needs of the pets. Petco, another "Capitalistic oppressor," sent truckloads of pet food, snacks and medicine to the evacuation centers, ensuring that the beloved companions of the displaced families were taken care of as well.
Not to say that FEMA and the State of California didn't step up. Even while Senator Barbara Boxer was complaining that the War in Iraq prevented sufficient aid from being given where it was needed, California National Guardmen were being reassigned to State duty from their posts on the US-Mexico border, to aid in the firefighting and evacuation effort. FEMA obviously learned lessons from its mistakes during the Katrina disaster and was very efficient in implementing and coordinating the emergency actions operations. The day after Boxer blamed the forest fires on the Bush Administration, as any good Democratic Party politician should do, she ate her words, saying that the manpower and equipment available to the State of California was "sufficient."
Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decided to do his part in helping the victims of the disaster by declaring that the wildfires, which have been fueled by the "Santa Ana" winds every year in the history of humankind, were caused by global warming, and that he would make sure that Congress would pass legislation dealing with the issue. This did give some comfort to those who refuse to admit that it may not have been a wise choice to build or buy a home in the fire prone area, for now they can blame their poor judgement on the natural cycle of the warming and cooling of the Earth. Even if we assume that industrialization is responsible for the acceleration of the natural cycles, Senator Reid is fifty years too late in promising legislation that, even if enacted this very minute, won't do much to help those who lost personal property and jobs in the fires. One might ask Senator Reid if it might have been a better idea to offer tax incentives to energy companies that research alternative fuels and energy, rather than taxing them out of the money needed to conduct such research.
When offered a choice, when needing help, between going to Congress or going to our neirghbors, the answer seems fairly obvious. The government has never given anybody the help they need in times of crises.

1 comment:

Dr. T said...

Excellent piece. Next they will be offering people in fire-prone areas subsidized insurance just as they do people who live in flood plains and along beaches (because after all people who live on the beach surely can't afford to buy hurricane insurance). Let the markets rule and we'll see people living in somewhat saner places.