Saturday, December 8, 2012

Rand Paul Calls for Federal Disaster Declaration

 U.S. Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul are urging Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to seek a federal disaster declaration because of the potential economic consequences of a drought that has led to low water levels on the Mississippi River, reports the Kentucky Courier-Journal.

I have been reporting for sometime at the EPJ Daily Alert that water levels on the Mississippi are very low and are likely to seriously impede barge traffic. Mississippi barges carry 20% of US coal and more than 60% of its grain exports. Other cargo—such as petroleum products, lumber, sand, industrial chemicals and fertilizer—also gets shipped along the Mississippi River.

McConnell and Paul said in a letter to Beshear on Thursday that commercial traffic on the river could “come to a complete halt in coming days” unless the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers takes action to increase the water flow.

“We are informed that shipment of over $7 billion in goods on the Mississippi River could be blocked over the coming months due to this entirely avoidable event,” they wrote.

This is really a battle between upstream and downstream river users.

The Army Corps of Engineers has begun reducing the flow from a Missouri River reservoir, a move expected to worsen low-water conditions on the Mississippi River, to protect water for the reservoir users.

Which brings us back to what a FEMA disaster declaration would mean.

According to FEMA:
Based on [a] Governor's request, the President may declare that a major disaster or emergency exists, thus activating an array of Federal programs to assist in the response and recovery effort. Not all programs, however, are activated for every disaster. The determination of which programs are activated is based on the needs found during damage assessment and any subsequent information that may be discovered.

Some declarations will provide only individual assistance or only public assistance.

Thus, would a declaration result in the Army Corps of Engineers being ordered to increase the flow of water and upset upstream water users, or will a declaration simply result in multi-billions in payouts to those suffering damages downstream? Payouts, of course, would result in creating moral hazard whereby those suffering losses would have no incentive to find creative ways around the lower water levels. Trains, trucking, who knows? I said creative. With multi-billions in losses, there would be huge incentives to come up with solutions. That incentive would be muted with losers being bailed out as a result of a disaster declaration.

It should be further noted that we are talking about a problem that exists in part because of the public nature of the Mississippi river. If water flow property rights were recognized then the problem really goes away. Obviously, upstream owners of water flow would be able to do whatever they chose to do with water flow that is part of their property. They could dam off the water flow for themselves. But with the multi-billions of dollars in damage facing those downstream, it would pay for those down stream to pay for water flow. End of problem. But instead of private property solutions, we have political solutions where those with the most power will gain at the expense of others, and resulting in so-called limited government politicians like Rand Paul looking goofy calling for federal involvement.


  1. I'm sure my post the other day about Rand Paul wasn't foretelling what to expect from Rand.

    I expect him to be an ardent statist.

  2. More statist garbage for Rand (the Anti-Ron) Paul

  3. The statist's most effective weapon in marginalizing liberty oriented advocates is to divide and conquer. Pot shots at Rand play to the statist's hand.

    1. So saying we don't agree with Rand when he takes non-libertarian positions is playing into the Statists hands?

    2. Statists are not dividing and conquering us, doofus.
      It is you Rand-apologists that are doing that.

  4. It is the fact that Rand clearly wants the ring of power that he will continue to take non-libertarian positions in order to gain enough supporters to get to 50.1%. It is impossible for a hardcore libertarian to ever become president, so he will move as far away from that position as necessary. The problem with this approach is that the further he moves away from libertarianism, the more damage he does to the liberty movement. We will not be able to achieve liberty by tricking people into voting for a libertarian. Not only will TPTB not let a Trojan horse through the door, but the people would riot if he somehow managed to slip through the cracks and started to implement libertarian ideas once he became president. Unless people are convinced that abolishing government is the solution in any particular trouble area, then they will be like the Greeks marching in the streets because they are seeing cutbacks in their "benefits". The only way to achieve liberty is to educate people that it is in their best interest to have it. Any attempt to advocate government solutions to government created problems will only set us back in this regard.

    1. Agree wholeheartedly.

      And once you understand that, you will defend no politician from ANY libertarian criticism. If the politician is a truly principled guy, not only will he easily be able to stand the criticism; he will actually welcome it because he knows libertarians are independent thinkers that question all authority. Libertarians don't have "faith" in any politician.

      Unfortunately, a number of commenters here on this blog still don't understand that. They still don't know how to question ALL authority, and lash out at those that do.
      Rand-apologists and Amash-apologists are prime examples of that.

  5. The pure idiocy of this post is self evident.

    1. And by "this post", I assume you are talking about your comment.

  6. Damn it! I'm tired of typing in a long comment only to have to log I'm and have it disappear!
    Anyway, really Wenzel? In why freely associating society would something like your "water flow rights " emerge? On a smaller scale for example, in a HOA being the dominant source of community, would people be allowed to capture rain water in barrels? Unlikely because there would be covenants in place to ensure that the ground is properly receiving the moisture it needs.