Mitt Romney Is Right About FEMA
“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,” Romney said at the June 2011 GOP debate, in response to whether the Massachusetts governor would cut FEMA.
Now, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the New York Times is making hay with that remark in an editorial entitled, “A Big Storm Requires Big Government.”
Mr. Romney not only believes that states acting independently can handle the response to a vast East Coast storm better than Washington, but that profit-making companies can do an even better job. He said it was “immoral” for the federal government to do all these things if it means increasing the debt.
Wal-Mart arrived in the New Orleans area long before FEMA and had the supplies that the community needed. Both President Aaron Broussard and Sheriff Harry Lee of Jefferson Parish in suburban New Orleans lauded Wal-Mart’s work. In an appearance on Meet the Press, Broussard noted the speed with which Wal-Mart had brought trucks of water to his area and then quoted Lee as saying, “if [the] American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn’t be in this crisis.”
Phillip Capitano, mayor of the New Orleans suburb of Kenner, reported that, “the only lifeline in Kenner was the Wal-Mart stores. We didn’t have looting on a mass scale because Wal-Mart showed up with food and water so our people could survive.” Other community leaders in the New Orleans area and cities along the rest of the Gulf Coast also praised Wal-Mart’s quick and effective response to the storm (Leonard 2005). Wal-Mart was not alone in providing much needed resources to the stricken areas, as other big box retailers such as Home Depot and Lowe’s also responded in similar ways. However, Wal-Mart’s response was the largest and, based on local reports, the most effective. In the three weeks following landfall, Wal-Mart shipped almost 2,500 truckloads of merchandise to the affected areas and had drivers and trucks in place to ship relief supplies to community members and organizations wishing to help. …
In addition to what they sold as a result of quickly re-opening their stores, Wal-Mart also provided a large amount of free merchandise, including prescription drugs, to those in the worst-hit areas of the Gulf Coast. For example, several truckloads of free items went to New Orleans evacuees staying at the Astrodome and the Brown Convention Center in Houston. Most importantly, Wal-Mart was able to get this assistance to the disaster areas almost immediately after the storm had passed, in comparison to the days—in some cases weeks—that residents waited for government agencies to provide relief.
Far too often there seems to be a bias for government intervention into a given problem. As though, if government didn’t do something, it wouldn’t be done at all. And if government does do something, it’s done better than anyone else could do it.
How many bloated, expensive, inefficient responses from the federal government to one disaster or another do we need to witness before we realize that these things aren’t true?Tags: fema, hurricane sandy, mitt romney