13 May 2011

Ron Paul Says FEMA Is "Bad Morality"

I was finishing up a blog post of an M.C. Hammer-themed playlist when I saw a tweet to this link and could not believe it.  Surely, it had to be a sensationalized headline, right?  I cannot even believe I am typing this blog post, because I cannot believe that anyone that could actually be taken seriously as a political figure could ever utter these remarks, much less with a straight face during an on-air interview with Wolf Blitzer knowing these words would find an audience.  And yet, here we are.  Ron Paul, father of the junior Senator Rand Paul from my home state Kentucky, declared his candidacy for the Office of the Presidency today.  Want to know what kind of America Paul envisions?  I'll let him tell you, since he's so proud of articulating his thoughts.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: On the whole issue of FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, do you want to see that agency ended?
REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: Well, if you want to live in a free society, if you want to pay attention to the constitution, why not? I think it's bad economics.  I think it's bad morality.  And it's bad constitutional law.
Why should people like myself, who had, not too long ago, a house on the Gulf Coast and it's - it's expensive there and it's risky and it's dangerous.
Why should somebody from the central part of the United States rebuild my house? Why shouldn't I have to buy my own insurance and protect about the potential dangers?
Well, the reason we don't have market insurance is it's too expensive. Well, why is it expensive? Because it's dangerous. Well, so why should - why should we take money from somebody else who don't get the chance to live on the Gulf and make them pay to rebuild my house?
I mean it's - it's a moral hazard to say that government is always going to take care of us when we do dumb things.  I'm trying to get people to not to dumb things.  Besides, it's not authorized in the constitution.
That's right, folks. Living on the Gulf coast is "dumb." And it's an act of self-indulgent extravagance. I'm sure Ron Paul's beach house was a self-indulgent extravagance. This guy is so far out of touch with those over whom he desires to preside, though, that he honestly doesn't understand that most people who live in areas prone to natural disasters aren't there because they thought it would be a lark to live where hurricanes strike and tornadoes ravage the countryside every spring. They live there because that's where they were born, grew up and live.

The laughable part--if you can find anything about this hateful, out-of-touch tirade comedic--is the notion that FEMA is "unconstitutional." I will certainly admit that FEMA is not identified within the text of the Constitution. This is a perfect microcosm for why the "strict constitutional reading" doctrine is absolute nonsense. Their argument rests on the declaration that the states shall reserve all authority not explicitly ceded to a federal agency, such as Congress or the President. Fine. But we have outlived the era in which states could operate on their own. Look around the country and name one state that can meet its needs all by itself. We had three, and then Wisconsin elected a ton of Republican tax-haters who turned that state's solvency into a financial nightmare...so they could justify making public worker unions into the bogeyman of the 21st Century.

Want to know why federal programs are needed? It's real simple. Your local taxes are low. You might think they're high, but the truth is they're lower than they should be. Your City Hall can't even pay its own water bill on what you agree to pay in taxes, because every tax increase locally is subject to a vote. And it's really hard to get people to agree to a tax rate increase. Guess what? Your school system still has students to teach, and most of them are struggling just to meet minimum expectations; too many of our classrooms have been reduced to glorified day care centers because of the lack of sufficient resources and support from outside the classroom. Your roads need to be paved. I would argue that your Emergency Services need to be properly staffed and equipped, but I suspect Ron Paul--who has never had anyone break into his home or set it on fire--doesn't value these services, either. Owning a home to be broken into or burned down is "dumb" in his world.

Your local budget relies on state funds. The rest of Kentucky may openly despise the big cities of Louisville and Lexington, but there's absolutely no getting around one point: they are the financial engines of the entire state. Name one county that doesn't make extensive use of state money derived from Louisville and Lexington. Go head, I'll wait while you Google it. I'll be happy to revise this blog post to reflect any evidence you find that contradicts me.

The "You're On Your Own" doctrine does not work, and anyone who has ever studied the 19th Century knows this. The Great Depression was not a fluke; it was the direct consequence of a society that provided no checks against those with the power to be reckless and no safeguards to protect those at their mercy.  Ron Paul's beliefs are only capable of existing in the mind of someone who is incapable of understanding their meaning and implications.  It is part of that phenomenon I addressed in a recent blog post, "Cause and Effects."  If you thought the reaction to Hurricane Katrina was one of outrage, imagine President Ron Paul telling the survivors, "Sucks to be you, doesn't it?"

Maybe you're thinking I'm overreacting to the implications of Ron Paul's remarks.  Wolf Blitzer's mind must have been as dizzy as mine by the end of that opening tirade, and gave him an out to clarify or revise his position by introducing into the conversation a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina.  Here's how that went down:

BLITZER:  And if there's a disaster, like flooding or - or an earthquake or Hurricane Katrina, what's wrong with asking fellow Americans to help their - their - their fellow citizens?
PAUL:  Nothing.  And I think Americans are very, very generous and they have traditionally.  The big problem is Americans are getting poor and they're not able to voluntarily come to the rescue.
But to coerce people, to ask them to help, that is fine and dandy.  But when you bankrupt our country and nobody has a job and then they say, well, FEMA needs to bail out everybody, then all we're doing is compounding our problems. 
And believe me, I've been, you know, very much involved in the hurricanes that have come into my district.  And most of the people in my district do not like FEMA.  You know, they want to try to get their money and all.  But FEMA comes in and takes over.
They take over their property rights.  They dictate.  They prevent some of the volunteers from going in.
So there's a strong resentment toward the way FEMA operates, because they're bureaucrats who don't understand the rule of law nor do they understand local control and property rights. So there's - there's a very strong argument that this whole program, that governance through coercion and taxation, can bail out everybody when we're flat broke and they have to print the money.  And now we're going into inflationary problems, which are very severe.  That's our big issue right now.
There it is, folks.  Your only protection against forces over which no human being can ever have control should be charity viewed as little more than a hobby on the part of those more fortunate than yourself.  If those Haves aren't feeling generous, so be it.  According to Ron Paul, Americans would be more charitable if they had more money.  Funny, but we hear the same thing about the economy: If you would just tax the Haves less, they'll use that money to hire more Have Nots.  Only, they're not doing it.  We're talking about people's very lives at stake.  There can be no room for this kind of hateful, ideological class warfare in 2011. Want to get a glimpse into a Ron Paul presidency? Study that of Herbert Hoover, on whose watch the Great Depression began and millions were devastated by his policies.  I've read the reports and seen the movies.  I, for one, have no desire to live in that America.  I'll take the "immoral" protection of FEMA over being told I'm "dumb" for, what?  Not being a One Percenter?  I never thought I'd live to see the day that anyone would openly campaign to roll back the calendar to a time despised by everyone who managed to survive it.

Here's the video from CNN.com:

4 comments:

  1. Well said! Well, mostly well said. I think there are plenty of things to dislike about Ron Paul. But, believe it or not, I think some of his attitudes are pretty great. Like he's against the bail outs and the very concept of companies being bailed out and he's against the Federal Reserve. I also like his policy on government generally staying out of our hair (that policy solves the whole gay marriage thing). And this is the real shame because, on the surface, he seems almost reasonable. But dig past his reasonable arguments and you see all the stuff you talk about in your post--and more. When he ran in 2008 he said he wanted to shut down the Dept of Education! I'm against the USG telling states *how* to teach but we need a federal law that forces states to provide, at least, a base line, minimum education or some states will likely bail on public schools all together.

    There are two things I'll end with. 1) I have yet to meet a Libertarian I actually like. 2) I think that if you're running for office it's a requirement to be out of touch with reality. I mean it MUST be since so many of them are, right? I mean, what kind of person is so cocky as to think they'd do a better job than anyone else?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for reading, and for taking the time to reply.

    I've disliked the idea of TARP, and I think it's literally criminal that anyone at an executive level would get a bonus of any kind, but I also think the bailouts were justified. They sucked, should have been handled differently, etc., but the alternative was massive unemployment almost literally overnight. We simply could not have allowed that many people to pay the price for the failure of executive leadership.

    The problem with Libertarians is not their starting point, but their ending point. They take their reasonable positions to an extreme that effectively negates the possibility of upward mobility barring unexpectedly strange luck. They would scrap every program meant to help level the playing field in the name of "freedom," which would preserve the status quo forever--if you're already at the top, you'd be fine; anyone else would have to struggle that much harder just to stay pat. Libertarians rail against things in society, but rarely do I hear one upset at his own lot in life. These are people who are largely content with life, but feel compelled to weigh in on issues that affect other people much more directly.

    That said, they're not all bad. One of my oldest friends is a Libertarian, and quite reasonable. It's hard for me to really evaluate, but I have never felt I was particularly far left; liberal, yes, but I reject a lot of the most outspoken leftist positions.

    In my youth I felt pretty far out there, but in my defense I grew up here in Kentucky. Not still wanting to fight Lincoln is a liberal idea in some parts here. As I've grown, I've come to feel that I'm pretty moderate on almost every issue (I am particularly outspoken on LGBT, women's and minority issues). I would say that my Libertarian friend is as close to the "center" as I am from the left, which is why we can take different routes to largely reach a point of agreement.

    Which leads me to your last point. I think we've yet to fully appreciate the impact of the Tea Party. We know it's funded by people with very deep pockets but it's caught on with an electorate that thinks lowly of politics in general and honestly do believe that "regular" people (i.e., people who are relatively new to politics) can do better--or at least, can't do much worse. I've been meaning to get to this theme, but I'm holding off for now because five months isn't sufficient time to draw clear conclusions about their impact at the federal level.

    I'm a populist by nature (one of the things I do admire about Andrew Jackson), but I also recognize there is a liability to having people do a job for which they haven't paid sufficient dues. What--other than money and friends in high places--makes Rand Paul more qualified to represent Kentucky in the United States Senate than me?

    If it wasn't for Crohn's, I would honestly consider throwing my name into the hat for an election of some kind and see about trying to build a career in politics. As it is, I'm too miserable today to even go with a friend to a Reds game this afternoon. Hardly the state someone should be in if they want to change the world, you know?

    ReplyDelete
  3. You have to give Ron Paul credit for being a man of principle. No matter how misguided he can be, be doesn't back down from what he believes. I agree with him on some things, but I agree that he takes things too far. I believe that yes, the government is too big, too wasteful, and there are programs that need to be re-evaluated and done away with, but on the other hand, there are things that the government can do better than any other entity. Emergency management is one of the things that the federal government can do better than the state governments. For one thing, the infrastructure is already there, second, most (if not all) states are not able to afford it, and finally, see what an awesome job Louisiana did handling Hurricane Katrina.

    I think that some of the things that the libertarians ask for is a good starting place, but for a lot of things, what they want is very unrealistic. But for some topics, I am in complete agreeance with the libertarians. The government should stay out of our personal lives, that is a given. It is none of their business what we do unless it has a direct harmful effect on someone else. The legalization of drugs, LGBT, and other such things I believe are outside the purview of the federal government.

    The education system is something that needs to be fixed. The libertarian position, I believe, would be a starting point for negotiations, but ultimately the federal government must have a place in the education system (As much as that disturbs me).

    One final thought, I still believe you would make a fine politician. The fact that you would be miserable might make you more productive than the usual politician. You certainly would not put up with as much bullshit..

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well said! Well, mostly well said. I think there are plenty of things to dislike about Ron Paul. But, believe it or not, I think some of his attitudes are pretty great. Like he's against the bail outs and the very concept of companies being bailed out and he's against the Federal Reserve. I also like his policy on government generally staying out of our hair (that policy solves the whole gay marriage thing). And this is the real shame because, on the surface, he seems almost reasonable. But dig past his reasonable arguments and you see all the stuff you talk about in your post--and more. When he ran in 2008 he said he wanted to shut down the Dept of Education! I'm against the USG telling states *how* to teach but we need a federal law that forces states to provide, at least, a base line, minimum education or some states will likely bail on public schools all together.

    There are two things I'll end with. 1) I have yet to meet a Libertarian I actually like. 2) I think that if you're running for office it's a requirement to be out of touch with reality. I mean it MUST be since so many of them are, right? I mean, what kind of person is so cocky as to think they'd do a better job than anyone else?

    ReplyDelete