Thursday, December 29, 2005

If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it fall . . .

Posted by Craig Westover | 12:17 PM |  

Whom should we send the disaster relief to?

File this under things I don't understand, but if a snow and ice storm in Minnesota in the winter is a "major" disaster, then what the hell was Katrina?

~Letter sent in response to blizzard and ice storm in late November ~

St. Paul – Saint Paul –Governor Tim Pawlenty recently sent a letter to President Bush in which he requested that nine Minnesota counties affected by the blizzard and ice storm that took place from November 27 though November 29, 2005 be declared a major disaster area. The affected counties are Big Stone, Clay, Lac Qui Parle, Lincoln, Norman, Stevens, Traverse, Wilkin, and Yellow Medicine.
Near as I can figure from the documentation attached to this release, the damage estimate is less that $20 million -- not chump change, but certainly something manageable for a state with a multi-billion dollar budget and a multi-million dollar surplus. Seems to me this is the kind of thing a "rainy-day" fund should cover instead of using it as a slush fund for budget over-runs.

The point is, before there was FEMA, Congress had to vote individual appropriations like this. There was some electoral control. Now, it's just assumed that if something bad happens, the federal government is going to pick up the tab. And following the Katrina fiasco, FEMA is motivated to respond quickly, rather than deliberately, resulting in even less discretion. Oh, did I mention it’s coming up on an election, and there’s nothing like a little federal money to bring out the vote?

I know, silly me for thinking that the federal government should be the last resort instead of the first when bad things happen to good people. Silly me for not realizing that some of that $20 million is Minnesota tax dollars and some Minnesota tax dollars were sent to New Orleans and we’re entitled to get it back.

Yeah, that’s probably right -- we’re entitled, just like everybody else.

Category: Local Politics