Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Posts Tagged ‘FEMA

Hurricane Sandy and Related News

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This close to the election, everything seems to revolve around the election. At least if one is a hard-core Republican. Or more on point, everything seems to revolve around hating Obama. The bodies weren’t even cold in Benghazi and Romney was heaping criticism on Obama, and he never let up. Odd, I don’t recall the GOP ever criticizing Bush for his military fiascoes, but once Obama was in charge, nothing but criticism. Hurricane Sandy appears to be the same. A Republican governor praises Obama for his prompt and effective response to Hurricane Sandy, and right wing pundits are foaming at the mouth. Classy, real classy. I used to be a Republican, but the party I knew at least acknowledged that we were all Americans, and that it was the politician’s job to work together to run the country.  Now Republicans seem to be trying to outdo themselves at reaching ever more ridiculous levels of partisanship. Granted there are voices on the left falling into the same trap, but I’ve yet to hear any liberals criticizing Obama for helping out a Republican governor. Plenty of them have praised Governor Christie though, I was impressed. Yeah, the storm was a break for Obama, but the Republicans could have handled the situation with far more dignity, instead they made it clear no matter how bad things get, no matter how many Americans die; Obama and the people who support him, tens of millions of Americans, can go f**k themselves. I’ll be glad when the election is over and Romney can move on to being a rodeo clown.

Speaking of Hurricane Sandy, or Superstorm Sandy as some are calling it, it was quite the storm. At least 90 dead in the USA, far more in the Caribbean. It wasn’t a super powerful storm, but it was super huge, one of the biggest hurricanes on record, it affected 24 states in the USA and numerous nations in the Carribean. Sandy wasn’t unprecedented, but it was certainly unusual. It’s already on track to be the second most damaging USA East Coast hurricane ever. Still, several times a century a storm like this can be expected to hit New York. And the frequency will be going up as the tropical seas get warmer. The real damage was caused by the storm surge. A storm surge is a pile of water pushed ahead of a storm by winds, surges of over 30 feet have been recorded. Think a tide thirty feet high. Not a pretty sight, storm surges are the big killer in hurricanes and cyclones. On the plus side, they can be prevented. A storm surge killed thousands in Holland in 1953, giant coastal defenses were built to prevent it happening again. Such were suggested for New York long ago, the idea is being revisited in the aftermath of Sandy. We’ll see.

A discussion of Sandy wouldn’t be complete without some mention of global warming. Was Sandy caused by global warming? It’s impossible to say, global warming is about climate, not weather. A fact that global climate change deniers conveniently ignore pretty much every time there is a severe snowstorm somewhere. Granted plenty of global warming activists are claiming that Sandy is clear proof of global warming. I feel their frustration, the globe increasingly is having the kind of extreme weather events that global warming predicts, the fact that it’s not possible to conclusively say that a particular event was caused by global warming is very difficult to explain to people who want to resist science they don’t approve of. However, even if global warming didn’t cause Sandy, it made it worse. That seems to be pretty clear to the climatologists. And at least it got the topic back on the news, that’s a good thing. Good for everyone except the coal and oil industry, sadly they own a lot of think tanks, politicians, and journalists … and they’re not afraid to use them.

In other Sandy  news, a Brazilian model, Nana Gouvea, thought it would make a nice backdrop for a photo shoot. One pic helpfully posted above. Her pics went viral. She got heaps of criticism and outrage. Granted it is a tasteless and tacky thing to do. On the other hand, she got tons of publicity. No harm, no foul. It’s not like she’s aspiring for political office, and she didn’t actually hurt anyone. I think it’s a clever idea. Ya, people are outraged. So what? On a scale of one to ten when it comes to outrageous items in the news, this is a zero. There’s tons of sleaze and crime every day far more deserving of outrage than a tasteless photo shoot. Priorities people, priorities. Heck, as my friend Steve Burke said: “Some guys will be seeing the damage for the first time thanks to these photos.”

Have a great weekend everyone!

(The above images are claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, they aren’t being used for profit and are central to illustrating the post. I don’t know who to credit the top one to, the second I assume is owned by Ms Noumea herself. Since I linked to her site and praised her photo shoot, hopefully that’s attribution enough. It would be nice if someday copyright law could be re-written to reflect reality, alas industry is easily the slowest element in a culture to adapt to changing times, and often uses its influence to impeded progress.  Another blog post for another day.)

Disaster Relief is Immoral According to Mitt Romney?

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Hurricane Sandy Shark

Actually, that’s not quite what he said. He that borrowing money to pay for disaster relief is immoral. He also said that disaster relief should be left up to the states or even privatized. Mr Romney is wrong on several levels, scary wrong in fact. On the top level he is wrong for implying that it’s wrong for the Federal Government to be involved in disaster relief. Protecting the people of America from threats is the government’s job for God’s sake,  how can that not include natural disasters? And I am talking natural disasters here, huge events that affect large areas, multiple states in many cases. The whole point of being in a tribe is that the tribe looks out for itself, hell; it’s the whole point of civilization, people cooperating for the common good. I know Mr Romney wasn’t quite saying “disaster victims had it coming, so they can take care of themselves” … but he’s awful close. And he is giving at least tacit support for those that do say such infantile nonsense.

On a  more practical level, it’s simply cheaper and more effective to have major federal resources that can be used in the event of a regional disaster. If each state had to entirely take care of its own disaster relief there would be fabulous duplication of effort as each state tried to be prepared for the worst case scenario. Disaster preparedness would also vary wildly between states, they differ greatly in both size, wealth, and prevalence of natural disasters. Again, note I’m not saying that states shouldn’t have disaster relief plans, I’m saying it only makes sense to have preparation and resources on multiple levels. For example a state could suffer a disaster so great that even ample local disaster preparation is overwhelmed. Having a central agency to both send in government resources and coordinate rescue efforts from other states is going to speed up  recovery efforts and save lives. I find it hard to believe that some people think the government shouldn’t save lives, even so, simply from an economic standpoint everyone in the country benefits if the affected areas are brought back to normalcy as soon as possible so that normal economic activity can resume. Right? The sooner people can get back to work … the sooner they start paying taxes again. Humanitarian concerns aside, it still makes perfect sense to use the federal government resources to get a disaster affected region back on its feet.

The privatization remark is frankly, somewhere between weird and deceptive. First of all, we have privatized disaster relief. They are called insurance companies, any individual or business that wants to avail themselves of their services is welcome to do so. Since this is the case, I can only assume Mr Romney thinks that federal and state governments, instead of taking care of disaster relief directly, take out insurance policies on infrastructure and such? Really? So in the event of a natural disaster all the president or governor has to do is call an insurance agent? It takes very little imagination to see how that might go wrong. It also means that huge companies will profit from natural disasters. Again, think about some of the implications of that. Privatizing disaster relief isn’t just an impractical idea, it’s downright immoral on some levels. Note I am not saying that governments shouldn’t make full use of private contractors when the need arises for disaster relief, I’m saying that the government needs to be able to do whatever is necessary to save lives and respond to a natural disaster in a timely and effective way, and that it can’t leave such decisions up to private companies motivated purely by profit.

Lastly we come to the idea that borrowing money for disaster relief is wrong. Excuse me? First of all, since the government has been running a deficit for decades, this argument could be used against any government spending. Right off the bat that’s a sign of a weak argument. And it’s also a sign of a failure to understand that borrowing money is how business is done in the USA. An entrepreneur borrows money to build a factory, and if they are successful, they profit and the lender profits. Borrowing money is at the freaking core of capitalism, modern business couldn’t do without it. And the economic payoffs from disaster relief are enormous, getting commerce back on its feet quickly after a disaster is going to increase wages and taxes, a much better return than a lot of other government spending.

In conclusion, Mr Romney’s thinking on disaster relief is either blatantly deceptive, propaganda for insurance companies and other wealthy interests that would benefit from his policies … or it’s alarmingly naive and sophomoric. I see no other options.

(The above image is a shark swimming through the streets of New Jersey flooded by Hurricane Sandy. Poor shark. Of course it’s a fake, though such is possible. Many fake Sandy photos have been circulating, many of them can be viewed here. New Jersey was the site of the original shark attacks in 1916 that inspired jaws, one of which occurred in a  creek 16 miles from the sea!)

Written by unitedcats

October 31, 2012 at 1:15 pm