All of our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Louisiana as they recover from last week's massive flooding. As usually happens after a tragedy like this, Americans are supporting private charitable efforts to help the flood victims.
Sadly, but not unexpectedly, some are also using the floods to score political points.
During his time in Congress, Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul opposed all federal disaster relief -- even for natural disasters occurring in his own district -- on the basis that federal disaster relief was unconstitutional, immoral, and most importantly ineffective.
Immediately after these votes, Dr. Paul would face a lot of criticism from his constituents and local media, but after a few months constituents would start to say: "Dr. Paul was right. I have had a horrible experience with FEMA. We would be better off if the Feds left us alone."
FEMA's bureaucratic and authoritarian method of providing "aid" caused numerous hardships for people already suffering from a disaster. For example, Ron was once told that anyone who dared try to enter their home before FEMA gave them permission would be arrested.
Following Hurricane Ike, FEMA set up a relief station for those displaced by the Hurricane. However FEMA's relief personnel did not show up until hours after the center was supposed to have opened. FEMA did, however, send out a PR team to assure everyone that they where on top of the situation.
Ike occurred in September 2008, yet in February 2009 our office was still trying to get FEMA to clean up debris from the Hurricane.
My "favorite" FEMA story is one about a man who called to get a tarp placed on his house because his roof was blown off. FEMA put the tarp on the wrong house and when the man was told that FEMA could not fix the problem for a few weeks, he said he and his neighbor could handle it. FEMA told him that if anyone else touched the tarp they would be arrested.
FEMA is a classic case of how a bureaucracies prioritize adherence to their rules and regulations ahead of helping people. They're also one more example of why, contrary to the claims of our critics, it is those of us who support free markets who are truly compassionate.
In 2001, Dr. Paul explained the problems with FEMA to FOX news:
Even before Hurricane Irene hit the U.S. East Coast, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was preparing to mitigate its devastating impact, spending from its $800 million relief fund to assist communities. But the real disaster may just be the agency itself, Rep. Ron Paul said Sunday.
The Republican presidential candidate, who represents the 14th Congressional District that runs partly along the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, argued that the temporary aid provided by FEMA has helped ruin the economy by creating a false dependency. "FEMA has been around since 1978, it has one of the worst reputations for a bureaucracy ever," Paul said. "It's a system of bureaucratic central economic planning, which is a policy that is deeply flawed."
Paul spoke to "Fox News Sunday" shortly after FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate reviewed a series of actions in response to Hurricane Irene taken on the orders of President Obama. Combined with other recent natural disasters, Fugate said the agency has enough in its immediate bank account to respond to communities seeking help, but how much will be needed afterward is unknown.
Paul said with FEMA on the brink of going broke, it's time to bury the agency. "We've conditioned our people that FEMA will take care of us and everything will be okay, but you try to make these programs work the best you can, but you can't just keep saying, 'Oh, they need money,' ... Well, we're out of money, this country is bankrupt."Paul added that FEMA is a gross distortion of the U.S. insurance system because it rewards bad behavior. "FEMA creates many of our problems because they sell the insurance because you can't buy it from a private company, which means there's a lot of danger, so we pay people to build on beaches, and then we have to go and rescue them," he said. "It's so far removed from the market and the understanding of what insurance should be about. Insurance should measure risk, it shouldn't be a a bailout program endlessly." The 12-term congressman suggested that the U.S. could recover $2 billion by pulling troops out of the conflict in Libya and applying the money at home. "I propose that we could save a billion dollars from the overseas war mongering, bring half that home, put it against the deficit, and yes, tide people over until we come to our senses."
Dr. Paul discussed the problems with FEMA with John Stossel in 2o12. Watch the clip here.
Tags: Ron Paul, FEMA, federal aid