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Romney Refuses to Discuss his Distorted Disaster Relief Morality
For Americans who live through a natural disaster, the feeling of helplessness during the event is second only to the aftermath when the damage is surveyed and one realizes that without assistance, there is little hope of ever recovering a semblance of normality. Because America is surrounded by oceans on three sides, chances of meteorological and hydrological disasters loom large, and when storm systems form over the ocean, phenomenon such as cyclones, typhoons, and hurricanes develop and as natural disasters go, the damage can be devastating. Climate scientists have warned for some time that due to global climate change, weather events like hurricanes will increase in severity, and along the East Coast, residents began feeling the effects of what has been termed a “Frankenstorm” due to the unique confluence of Hurricane Sandy, an early winter storm in the West, and a blast of arctic air from the North. In the aftermath of a disaster climatologists are predicting will decimate the East Coast, residents will depend on emergency relief from the federal government, and most will be thankful there is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to give them assistance. However, Willard Romney believes disaster relief from the federal government is immoral, and he is not alone.
Romney’s obscene “immoral’ comment was made worse when he said, “What are the things we’re doing, that we don’t have to do? Those things (disaster relief), we’ve got to stop doing because we’re jeopardizing the future of our kids, it is simply immoral.” In Romney’s vision of government, all expenditures should to go to the wealthy, the military, and corporations, and his grand idea for disaster relief is handing the task of helping displaced Americans to private enterprise. It is true the federal government does not have to help its citizens, but it also is not required to help the oil industry, Israel, corporations, or Willard Romney, but he never complained about the welfare the federal government provided him, Bain Capital, or the 2002 winter Olympics. Apparently, to Romney, his understanding of government morality is founded in how many tax payer dollars the government hands over to him, corporations, and the wealthy elite.
Libertarian Ron Paul took it a step farther and said disaster relief is the purview of churches that will somehow miraculously survive the devastation of a natural disaster and have resources to feed and house Americans who have lost everything, and will repair power lines, clean up fallen trees, and rebuild communities eviscerated by a behemoth natural disaster. History shows, though, that god and churches are missing in action during and after severe weather events, and if they are in the path of a hurricane, will suffer the same damage as other Americans and it begs the question; where do churches go for assistance after a natural disaster? The federal government.
It is that Romney has a distorted sense of morality, but he is promoting the standard Republican agenda that government exists to enrich the wealthy at the expense of the population’s health, safety, and overall well-being. In 2011, House Republicans decided instead of focusing on jobs, it was prudent to attack women’s rights and go on a spending cut frenzy targeting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) including the National Weather Service (NWS). Their moral plan cut $126 million from the NWS, and roughly $450 million from NOAA that meant closure of up to 12 forecast offices that safeguard American lives and property. Each office issues forecasts and warnings to an average population of 2.5 million people meaning that over 30 million Americans would be left to look at the sky to predict when their lives would be devastated by a major weather disaster. The head of the Federal Aviation Administration under George W. Bush, Marion Blakey, said, “Imagine the damages we will suffer in the future if weather forecasting capabilities are degraded and communities are not given timely and accurate warnings of major storms coming their way.” Of course, Blakey believes government has a moral responsibility to warn Americans of an impending natural disaster, and it is in sharp contrast to Romney’s assertion that spending money to protect Americans is immoral; unless private enterprise profits.
It is a staple of the Republican agenda that people do not matter, and their dysfunction is if they do admit government has a role to solve problems like warning Americans of an impending natural disaster, or helping them recover from the aftermath, they may have to concede that government plays a necessary and crucial role in people’s lives. However, by asserting that spending taxpayer dollars on agencies like the NWS, FEMA, or NOAA is immoral, it is easy to defund an agency like FEMA or the NWS despite the cost in human terms, and if Americans have learned anything in the past year-and-a-half, it is that Republican cuts always carry a high price in human terms; unless the humans are filthy rich.
Last year in the wake of Hurricane Irene, Eric Cantor and Republicans balked at additional funding for FEMA unless it was matched with “savings elsewhere,” particularly by making massive cuts to FEMA and first responders. At the time, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) detailed the problem with GOP’s FEMA cuts; “The House bill slashes funding for grants to equip and train first responders by 40 percent, on top of the 19% cut in FY 2011,” and she goes on to note the “GOP House defense appropriations bill provides $12.8 billion to train and equip troops and police in Afghanistan, but only $2 billion for first responders to assist American citizens.”
Romney is right that there is a morality problem in America, but it rests solely with himself, Paul Ryan, and Republicans who think so little of Americans they will, given the opportunity, slash funding for emergency disaster relief and early warning in case of a major natural disaster, and yet they wage ferocious battles to preserve oil subsidies, tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, and aid to Israel and the military. Romney gives away his real immoral agenda of handing over FEMA operations to the private sector and one wonders how much Bain Capital has invested in companies set to “take over” disaster relief.
Republicans are immoral for, as Romney says, wanting to “get government out of the way” of people’s lives which is code for privatization and more tax cuts for him and his wealthy cohort. Government is not the be all, end all, but they are the only agency with the means to address something as monumental as a major natural disaster, and it exists to protect the American people it serves. If it is immoral to use federal funds for disaster relief, then it is a mortal sin for Romney to take $1.5 billion for puerile Olympic games, or millions from the federal government auto bailout. Romney’s moral dilemma can be summed up in three words; pure unadulterated greed. What the American people need to know is that Willard’s moral compass is dictated by the size of his hidden riches and not concern for the American people or this country, and he has projected that sentiment for the past 9 months. It is just another piece of evidence that not only is he not a Christian, he is an immoral human being who thinks so little of the American people that his first priority is enriching the private sector and himself, and although that may be part and parcel of being a good Mormon, it makes him a despicable American, and in keeping with the spirit of the season, a scary monster.