One of the best qualities of Americans - whatever our political leanings - is the ability to come together during times of crisis to help care for one another. It is especially true during natural disasters.
Americans have always been generous and willing to sacrifice to aid those in need after earthquakes, floods, and destructive forest fires. Before the storm American citizens, relief organizations and federal agencies began preparations to assist the victims of Hurricane Sandy and it speaks to the generosity of the American people.
The assistance from ordinary citizens, volunteer groups and relief organizations, such as the Red Cross and Salvation Army, was in addition to government aid that was offered after a governor or president declared a state of emergency that is necessary to trigger government assistance from organizations like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for rebuilding and disaster relief to the affected areas.
Republicans in the 112th Congress have proposed cuts to FEMA, severe weather warning systems, earthquake and tsunami monitoring programs, and myriad other public safety programs established to protect every region of the United States.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has called the government’s role in disaster relief immoral and advocates shifting disaster relief responsibility to the states or even the private sector. In a GOP primary debate in June of last year, moderator John King asked Romney if he would let states take on the responsibilities of FEMA. Romney answered, “Absolutely. And every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go even further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better. We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things.”
Republicans continue their assault against FEMA, an organization that helps people at no charge beyond the taxes paid to the United States Government by the American people. If FEMA is non-existent, people, cities, and states would have to hire disaster response companies to come to their aid which is a recipe for fraud, as these companies could hold disaster areas hostage until they get the price they demand. Worse, these response companies could hold individual disaster victims hostage until the company gets the price it wants or ignore helpless victims altogether if they don’t pay the fee.
Now former Republican Governor Jeb Bush is set to lead a for-profit disaster response company. Of course, this response team will respond to disasters for a price, rather than come to the aid of people affected by a natural disaster out of the kindness of their hearts, like FEMA and other organizations do. In other words, they’ll profit off of death and destruction.
Remember the home in Tennessee a couple years ago that was allowed to burn down by the local for-profit fire house because the residents failed to pay the fee? Well, you can bet that same scenario will play out across the country and on a more sickening scale. This is why we Americans pay local, state, and federal taxes to fund our emergency services. Private companies only care about their bottom line and thus don’t care about the human lives at risk of dying in the aftermath of disaster. Their first priority would be money and they would fleece the people in their most desperate time of need. It’s a blood profit that each of us should find morally unacceptable.
Republicans in this current Congress proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA is a federal agency that focuses on the condition of the oceans and the atmosphere as well as administering the National Hurricane Center. NOAA also provides weather forecasting programs based on weather information gleaned from satellite data and various information gathering systems. In addition to coastal regions that benefit from hurricane predictions provided by the weather service and NOAA, the Plains and the Sun Belt regions of the country benefit from early tornado warnings.
If the GOP has its way, FEMA and other agencies like the NOAA will be eliminated. It is part of Republican ideology that people are on their own and government exists to fund the military and to give taxpayer dollars to corporations. Republicans would privatize the weather service if they could get away with it so corporations can charge to provide early warnings during severe weather, and if a region doesn’t pay, they will not be warned in advance of impending tornadoes or hurricanes.
Meanwhile, this GOP controlled congress has repeatedly blocked Democrats efforts to repeal corporate entitlements that would go a long way toward funding recovery and rebuilding efforts in natural disaster ravaged areas. Republicans will never understand that government exists to protect and care for its citizens whether they suffer from natural disasters or lose their jobs to corporate outsourcing.
When it comes to assisting victims of natural disasters, Republicans are willing to let people suffer. At some point, Americans must acknowledge that the Republicans are leaving people to fend for themselves in every aspect of their lives and they are just getting started. What do you think will happen with disaster relief funding if Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan win this election?
Even as Hurricane Sandy was bearing down on the East Coast, Mitt Romney’s campaign was standing by his previous suggestion to privitize disaster relief. But as we see the disaster the massive storm had created, in true Romney fashion he now says he wants to keep FEMA. But with any position, or changing one in this case, what Romney believes should be dictated by his past behavior and by those in his party.
Unfortunately, ignorant Republican voters will re-elect representatives who will defund the agencies that may save them from the next natural disaster, and when they are left homeless they will still blame Democrats.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com