Sunday, November 04, 2012
3 Political Lessons from Hurricane Sandy
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, several "gut feelings" I have been experiencing have crystallized. If I have bee known for plain-speaking in the past, this post should take the cake.
Yes, I have one foot in the wild-eyed Progressive Camp and one in the hard-core Libertarian Camp. And this disaster has merely confirmed my eternal position stuck between these two camps.
1) It’s time to stop fighting about Global Climate Change, and time to start DOING something about it. We can not go on trying to survive “100-Year Storms” every year by fighting about whether its caused by humankind or a natural phenomenon. It is REAL. It is DESTRUCTIVE. It has been confirmed by Science. And we must begin to take responsibility for our futures.
For conservatives, it means an end to worshipping at the altar of Big Oil, Corporate Gas, Coal, and cheap gasoline. The answer is not to expand ‘domestic’ drilling to be energy ‘independent;’ the answer is to adopt European architectural standards that consider buildings that draw more energy than they create to be ‘a design flaw.’
For liberals, it means an honest end to “NIMBY” protectionism. Sure, Martha’s Vineyard liberals are all about a green future – unless it's the Cape Wind Project. Sure, western Massachusetts liberals are all in favor of green energy…unless it’s a windmill on their favorite mountain summit. Organized efforts against “Solar Farms” and “Industrial Wind” are in full operation in one of the most liberal areas of the country, based on tortured semantic gymnastics that boil down to nothing more than , “Not In My Backyard.”
Under the US Constitution, Congress and Congress alone is granted the power to regulate Interstate Commerce. There is hardly a good or service that more readily crosses state borders than the nation’s electric grid. It is time for Congress to prohibit local statutes frustrating green energy development. It is time for Congress to end Oil Company subsidies. It is time to Prohibit fracking and require energy-neutral building. NOW.
2) It’s time to stop engaging in a subservient obedience because “Government Knows Better.”
Government does NOT know better. My neighbor did not become omniscient and omnipotent by virtue of being employed as a contractor on Monday, and hired as a Government bureaucrat on Tuesday.
Throughout this disaster, we have been mislead and mismanaged by political offices. From NYC Mayor Micheal Bloomberg, who insisted that this was not a big deal of a storm, to the National Hurricane Center, which refused to issue hurricane warnings for New York and New Jersey, we have been failed by Government. In spite of that, like sheep to the slaughter, we have simply ‘obeyed’ government in waiting for rescue after disaster struck.
Private citizens - willing, able and desirous of helping – have been turned away. Turned away from storm-ravaged neighborhoods in the Rockaways, on Fire Island, on Staten Island. Incredulously, the Federal Emergency Management Agency – “FEMA” – is asking Fire Island homeowners to file for disaster relief online if their homes were damaged. But at the same time, the Suffolk County NY County Executive has ordered the arrest of anyone seeking access to Fire Island…leaving homeowners who are familiar with every square inch of the island’s landscape unable to judge the damage, make repairs, or file FEMA claims - all while off-island government ‘experts’ decide how to assess that very same damage in places where they have never stepped a foot.
When a tree falls across the road, we have been all-too-well trained to ‘call someone” to remove it. In another day, we would have simply gotten out our chain saw and taken care of it.
But today, citizens can not bring goods and comfort to the Rockaways, or Long Beach, or Kismet, or parts of Staten Island, as residents freeze and starve in filth and debris for the sixth night in a row – because the Police won’t let them. After all, the ‘authorities’ supposedly know better, and what they know is that citizens can’t be ‘trusted’ to help fellow citizens.
We need to return to the day when it is acceptable for citizens to engage in self-help, to apply their expertise and knowledge and sweat and tears without being pre-licensed and approved by government bureaucracies seeking to limit their own liability and “control” the repairs.
If I have ever had a Libertarian streak - here it is.
3) We need to completely rethink our strategies as to the very purpose of our military – and even more so, our National Guard.
Today, over 132,000 Americans are stationed abroad in military operations. How much more could they be used here at home!
We do not need troops in Europe, or rebuilding Afghanistan, or engaged in exercises off the coast of Australia. We do not need our National Guard shipped around the world in secret missions in Jordan and Pakistan.
We need a military, and a national guard, that can respond to threats at home. That can rebuild the United States. That can apply their prowess and provide their skills to the suffering HERE.
Rather than being the orphaned step-child of the US military, consigned to trapping boats carrying pot and immigrants - The United States Coast Guard should be the Vanguard of our forces; they and they alone are actually guarding our shores, while the Commander-in-Chief and the Pentagon spend 95% of our military budget in Germany and Afghanistan.
Yes, I am outraged…tired of bureaucracy, tired of government arrogance, tired of the assumption that ‘the people’ are expendable, incapable, and controllable.