Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Katrina Anniversary

I know this is nothing to do with Secretary of State, but sometimes significant evetns warrant discussion whether or not the office being sought has anything to do with it. Certainly people ask me about things that have nothing to do with SOS more than to do.

Much is being made in the media about Hurricane Katrina having happened a year ago. Much should be made about it. This is a classic example of huge numbers of citizens not taking responsibility for the choices they make in their lives.

If a home's ground floor elevation is below sea level, and the area has a hurricane season associated with it, the only reasonable expectation is that disaster will that home.

I do not think that living in such areas should be banned, as some are calling for. I hold that anyone can build and live where they choose, so long as they accept full responsibility for that choice. One who chooses to live in such conditions had best get a solid insurance policy and have a solid evacuation plan. Anything less is poor planning.

The people of the region are victims, but mainly of their own poor planning. The unheralded victims are the people who live outside the Gulf. These are the people who are paying, via FEMA, for the poor planning and lousy decisions made by too many in the Gulf.

It's getting worse. Notice how with Ernesto, a weak tropical storm so far, FEMA and governors around the Gulf are over-reacting. They don't want any part of the negative PR FEMA and the President took last year.

In fact, this was an opportunity for the President to be an advocate for self-responsibility and fiscal conservatism. It's understood that people buy land without thinking of all the possible consequences. But with Katrina, there was a real example, and a chance to change FEMA's role forever.

The President could have, and should have said to the country, "We will pay for you to rebuild a home. If you build it where it once stood, you take full responsibility should disaster strike again. We will not rebuild these areas a second time. FEMA's role is to assist in disaster, not to justify and forgive bad decision making, and certainly not to relieve anyone from thinking and planning. Choose carefully this time. This is the last FEMA bailout, ever. If you live in other hurricane magnet areas, in tornado alley, on a steep cliff where the waves are undercutting, or any other place with obvious risk, it's time for you to get insurance and to make a plan."

Alas, President Bush and the Republicans are just as committed to the perpetuation of big government as the Democrats.

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