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Cato Institute on FEMA: Taking the Bad with the Good

When you take facts and filter them through your belief system, where will you end up?

by Eric Holdeman / November 19, 2014

If you can take facts that people assemble and then use your own background and knowledge to filter them for what it all means, then you will be better off than just blindly reading what someone else has written and what their interpretation is of an assembled list of information.

With the above in mind, then read: The Federal Emergency Management Agency: Floods, Failures and Federalism. Claire Rubin, the Recovery Diva, pointed me to this report and she rightly says it comes from a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. I would go beyond saying "conservative" and call it a libertarian think tank.  

This is a great example of taking the bad with the good. I like some of the facts they have assembled, but I don't agree with all the conclusions. I'm at a conference and don't have time to finish reading everything at this time, but I'll share a few observations from what I've read so far, and I will read the entire document later.

  • Remember this is coming from an "anti-government" point of view.
  • In a disaster response, FEMA's primary role is not providing services or funding, but coordinating the federal response. It is the reason it was created in the first place -- before there was a FEMA, federal agencies were all responding in an "uncoordinated" manner. At least they mentioned the continuity of government role, which they say should be given to another agency, like "the military?"
  • The term "federal intervention" is used. The feds are not intervening, they are being "invited in to help by governors." I do agree that the states and locals are not carrying their weight when it comes to funding before, during and after a disaster.
  • For the federal flood insurance, attack Congress, not FEMA, for backing off of the move to shift the cost of living with flood risk to individual property owners. FEMA is not the one that caved on this subject.
  • Quoting someone from 100 years ago who lived in a different time with different standards doesn't hold much water with me. What would the quotations about Manifest Destiny have been in the late 1800s?

All you college emergency management students out there, use your brains! Don't just blindly quote. Consider the source.

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