Sunday, March 13, 2011

It's Time to Get Government Out of the Major Emergency Response Business

As pictures are splashed across the internet and television news broadcasts of the devastation caused by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, one thought comes to my mind, the government is the last organization we should count on in a major emergency.

In these times of over-spending by government in all kinds of directions spending for government major emergency response should be completely eliminated.

No doubt, most of those left homeless and those walking around like zombies on the streets of Japan and, who knew a  bad earthquake or tsunami could hit their area, were counting on a rescue from the government if such a disaster hit. Huh.

Like those in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, those impacted by the earthquake are quickly learning that government assistance amounts to the government possibly taking over a high school gym and sticking you on a cot, with long lines for terrible army rations food.

I mean, what do most people expect? This is the government. It's the same outfit where you will find long lines and surly help at the post office and the DMV. The same outfit that can't figure out how to educate those in the poorest sections of town. And the same outfit that, at the airport, treats your grandmother, literally, as a potential terrorist.

Is it any wonder that no matter what the emergency that government doesn't act until after the fact? Duh! A dike break in New Orleans. An earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Shouldn't people have a quality emergency plan before such events? It's not like, say, a major earthquake hitting Los Angeles is going to come as a major surprise. Yet, if such an earthquake hits Los Angeles, few know now where they are going to go and what they will do, if they are caught up in such an earthquake. Most of the emergencies that the government comes to rescue on are emergencies that can be seen as possibilities ages before the events occur, such as a Los Angeles earthquake. And much better solutions can be developed than, after the crisis, at the scene, rushed FEMA-type refugee camps.

But with most people thinking that they should count on government for a solution in a crisis, there is limited demand for private sector solutions and what we get is typical after the fact shoddy response from government. I say its time we pull the plug on government "response". Once the plug is pulled, I fully expect the private sector to fill the gap with quality emergency response solutions, get this, IN ADVANCE.

Yes, we will have to put up with emergency response salesmen who will be explaining the different options we will have during a crisis. How much living space we will get in our emergency quarters, the quality of the food, how many television channels we will get on our emergency television etc. The different location options, depending where an earthquake does damage. But that's one helluva better option than the government after the fact "response" of sticking everyone in a smelly gym, on a cot.

Now, I have not gone beyond, a discussion of emergency quarters and food, because you just don't know what innovations that the free market will come up with once people in the private sector start thinking of options and solutions.

It's very likely that some companies will even provide emergency response for the travelling businessman. If he is in Los Angeles, he is covered there against earthquakes. If he is in New York City, he is provided shelter if a suitcase bomb goes off in the city. Perhaps, there will be general disasters coverage. Someone else, who doesn't travel, may decide to only be covered for a particular location, against all disasters in that location. Hell, the gym I belong to, sells options for multi-locations and just one location. Someone is sure to come up with the same options for emergency response.

Again, I repeat, the types of emergencies that may develop in an area can generally be largely foreseen in advance. And can be prepared for in advance. That this isn't being done now on an individual basis is simply because most people can't think out of the box and propaganda that "government will be there to help".

Government largely exists to protect itself, just take a look at the poor folks in Libya, or ask Bradley Manning, who hasn't been convicted for a crime but is being mentally tortured.

Once the government fiction is removed that the government is the best and only organization that can respond to a crisis, we will see private sector business open up and develop pre-planned emergency options. I would anticipate that once economies of scale kick in, the cost of such emergency options would be fairly reasonable.  For those, however, who do not have the funds to purchase advance emergency protection, there is nothing wrong with various charity services providing assistance, but this FEMA style herding of everyone into the largest building in the area has to stop.

Let's End FEMA, abolish it's budget and turn major emergency response over to the private sector.


  1. "For those, however, who do not have the funds to purchase advance emergency protection, there is nothing wrong with various charity services providing assistance, but this FEMA style herding of everyone into the largest building in the area has to stop."

    What if there are no charities? Can't we at least have the option of the smelly high school gym FEMA provides for us? Sure as hell better than the streets. I make minimum wage, the last thing i could afford would be a fricken emergency apartment that likely would cost well into the thousands of dollars.

  2. Related to this. One question I asked myself was, yeah, I understand the reliance on nuclear energy, and that older nuclear reactor designs generally needed to be near large bodies of water, but they KNEW earthquakes were a serious danger, and yet the chance of tsunamis seemed to escape their grasp! Okay, Japanese engineering can actually withstand a 9.0 earthquake. This is a major achievement, and the earthquake itself doesn't seem to have done much damage at all. But how could they ignore the possibility of a major tsunami?! There is NO WAY you could possibly design against one like that. It must be a government operation!

    Otherwise, I feel very much for the Japanese people. This is a very serious problem and the loss of life will probably get much larger.

  3. Et tu RW ?
    Suitcase bomb ?
    No need to help the War Machine feed the fear.

    As we know NYC has trouble with snow.
    A hurricane might be a better example.
    I think NY hasn't had one hit for many decades now.
    Even up here in Mass, we haven't had a hurricane in almost 2 decades(and that one was lame).
    I worry if a strong one hits what will happen.
    The population is far more dependent on the government now.
    There is also a strong fault line up in Mass. to worry about.

    Otherwise nice blog entry.
    Prep up People !

  4. @Anonymous 1 -- "What if there are no charities?"

    When govt. gets into the business of charity, the number of private charities decreases because people learn to depend on the govt. for relief. Private charities do an infinitely better job than govt. relief programs, which encourage dependency and sloth.

    Besides, no one has a right to other people's money by force -- even the victims of natural disasters. The govt. has no right to steal money in the form of taxation from one group and dole it out to another. The govt., after all, is helping no one. It is merely redistributing wealth.

  5. And another thing, Anonymous 1 --

    The free market, unhampered by government intrusion, fosters competition, which in turn produces lower prices and greater quality for products and services. Therefore, disaster insurance would be affordable even for those on minimum wage.

    Note that this is the case only when the government stays out of the insurance industry -- as is not currently the case in health care.