Cream Style Corn
Mitt's Response to the Carnage of Hurricane Sandy
Campaigning in Ohio in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy's massive death and destruction, Mitt Romney urged the crowd to donate canned goods toward the "reconstruction effort." As if green beans and creamed style corn were going to somehow snap the east coast out its post-Sandy funk and get it back on the ball. [Food banks on the east coast can and will provide needed food. Truthfully, the food raised in Ohio will likely stay in Ohio's food banks and feed the needy there. A friend who works for the Indiana Blood Center explained this reality to me after 9/11. She had people lined up to give blood "to survivors in New York City." I was clueless until she told me, "Do you really think we're going to refrigerate and ship this blood to New York when we habitually have shortages here?" Good point and I personally have no problem with such "deception," especially when New York's blood banks were flowing red with local donors anyway. If food banks in Cincinnati and Cleveland get a much-needed boost from the largesse inspired by Sandy, then all the better. Disagree if you like.]
But back to Mitt's give-a-can ethos: It recalls Herbert Hoover's "rugged individualism" initiative in the wake of the Great Depression. The idea - and the Tea Party types still spout this - was that during times of horrific economic calamity, local churches, charities and governments can step it up and tide things over. The federal government shouldn't be relied upon for such undertakings. This approach failed miserably and predictably during the Great Depression and ultimately The New Deal ushered in a wave of Keynesian "pump-priming" efforts that better stimulated the economy. [In times of great economic calamity, where are churches, local governments and charities going to come up with the supposed wherewithal to fund relief efforts? They're broke too.] The federal government can and must step in immediately given the scope and peril of such disasters as Hurricane Sandy. Government exists to serve in such situations and it is a legitimate, reasonable, and humane expenditure of tax funds in such a case.
According to the BBC, "Many areas of the New Jersey coastline looked like a war zone, with flattened buildings and scenes recalling bombed-out areas." For such massive devastation, an obvious and immediate federal government response is necessary. Unlike the indifference shown to New Orleans in the wake of Katrina - or perhaps because of it - the federal government was poised to act quickly and decisively this time, earning the praise of Obama's heretofore staunch critic, Chris Christie (R), governor of New Jersey.
Riding the Tea Party's monomania about slashing budgets, Romney proposed gutting FEMA's budget during the campaign. Hurricane Sandy illustrates why that would be very ill-advised. California is going to have earthquakes; the southwest is going to experience wild fires; tornadoes ravage places like Joplin, Missouri occasionally; and the Gulf Coast and all the states from Florida to New England occasionally suffer the fates of the destructive forces wrought by hurricanes. Thus, FEMA requires competent leadership and adequate funding. Recall that George W. Bush's cronyist appointee as FEMA, Mike Brown, oversaw a pathetically inept relief response to Katrina in 2005. Brown had no background or training in emergency relief management, previously having managed horse racing tracks. Current FEMA director, Craig Fugate, was tabbed because he had been Florida's emergency relief director previously. Contrast the federal government's readiness for Sandy to Katrina: in New Orleans, displaced residents were housed in the Superdome for weeks, lacking sufficient water, food, or security, the scene deteriorated into anarchy. Mike Brown resigned as FEMA head as a result.
Charity has its place in our society, but proposing that FEMA's budget be slashed and that grass roots efforts to ship canned foods to the east coast is the way to confront Sandy-sized disasters is akin to suggesting that holding a garage sale is a good way to handle one's delinquent mortgage payment. Such on-the-cheap efforts fall far short and necessitate the need for a competent, realistically-funded federal response.
Epilogues: Denying climate change is criminally stupid. It seems as if the GOP feels like science can't be trusted. It was surprising that issue never surfaced in the debates. No other developed country disputes the existence of climate change and global warming.
On the GOP's obsession with cutting spending: Two of their recent iconic presidents - Reagan and W. Bush - both doubled the national debt during their tenures. That fact is never broached by Ryan, McConnell, Romney, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, Coulter, et al.
Somebody on NPR said of Obama today, "He inspires me, he motivates me, and he'll deliver mediocre results again if re-elected. He's like the person you threaten to break up with: for the next couple of weeks, things go a lot better, but then they pretty much go back to where you were." This liberal commentator therefore announced she was voting for Romney.
Prediction: Romney wins Florida and Obama holds Ohio and with no real "hope" or "change" this time [and with a relatively low voter turnout], Obama gets his second term. It's a shame we don't demand more than the two inadequate choices we're given.