Thursday, September 08, 2011

To FEMA or Not to FEMA?

It’s been a big year for disaster in the US. Floods, tornadoes, wildfires, earthquakes, and hurricanes have cost lives and billions of dollars in property damage. Northern Carroll County got a big dose of damage in the form of Hurricane Irene. Roads and bridges were so damaged that at one point, parts of Rt. 16, 302, and the Kanc were all closed. People above the notches were stranded. The Notchland Inn was an island unto itself for nearly a week, with a bridge to the south damaged to impassibility, and the road to the north washed away and undermined. These are all major thoroughfares for the North Country, and essential to our lives and our businesses. They cannot go unrepaired.

Roads and bridges come under the jurisdiction of the NH Dept. of Transportation. We all recently learned that the current state budget made dramatic cuts to the DOT that were likely to impact the way our roads are plowed, which certainly impacts public safety. State Rep. Gene Chandler was quite upset when that story came out. Suddenly, his leadership role in the O’Brien junta was coming back to bite his district. Now there’s a great deal of expensive road and bridge damage in Chandler’s own hometown. One wonders how he’ll be explaining those DOT budget cuts to his constituents. And where is the money going to come from for all the repairs that must be made? Chandler mentioned help from FEMA in the paper, but can he be serious? Why, that’s money from the BIG GOVERNMENT that today’s GOP is dead against.

How will Chandler justify taking federal aid? What will Frank Guinta do? Congressman Guinta was vehemently opposed to any government funds being used to repair or build a new bridge to replace the bridge between Portsmouth and Kittery, ME. Does Guinta oppose FEMA funding to repair and rebuild our roads and bridges? Will he be brave enough to say so, with an election year coming up? Will anyone in the GOP-complicit NH media ever ask him?

GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul recently said that he believes FEMA should be abolished, and states should have to dig their way out of their own disasters. That’s an interesting statement, coming from a guy whose state is on fire. Especially given that the governor of that same state (also a presidential candidate) is quite miffed that Texas isn’t getting enough federal dollars to help fight those fires. Candidate Michele Bachman had this to say on the campaign trail in Florida: “I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?” No word from Mrs. Bachman on what kind of message God is sending Texas.

Earlier this year, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave NH a C grade on infrastructure, a C that was more like a D. A 2011 study by Transportation for America rated NH as the 11th worse state, because of the number of structurally deficient and redlisted bridges in the state. In 2008, the Pew Research Center rated NH government efficiency at a D+ grade, the worst in the nation. The reason for the low grade? NH’s failing infrastructure, and bad track record on long range planning. NH has no plan for communications infrastructure, and at the time of the report estimated that the 10-year transportation plan would take 22 years to complete. It’s safe to say that with this current crop of legislators, the 10 to 22 year plan will be delayed considerably.

It’s important to remember that NH is the seventh wealthiest state in the nation. NH has 27,000 millionaires living in tax-free splendor here in the Granite State. Some of them are currently holding public office. NH is not a poor state. NH is a cheap state. Our outmoded system of taxation, combined with our enormous volunteer legislature conspire to keep NH’s infrastructure in a permanent state of peril, and guarantee no progress will be made. Instead, we will continue to pay the pound of cure, when those redlisted bridges, dams, and roads fail.

Once again, NH mirrors what is happening on a national level. In NH the Teabaglican House ignores NH infrastructure, just as the US Teabaglican House ignores our national infrastructure problems. Clearly public roads and bridges are part of a terrible socialist infrastructure plot, and must die an ignominious death in order to save the nation from godless communism.

Congressman Eric Cantor of Virginia wants to hold federal aid to flood ravaged states hostage in return for budget cuts. Cantor doesn’t mean cuts to our military empire or aid to Israel, either. He means the kind of cuts that will have Nana living under a bridge eating cat food. The GOP is morally bankrupt – as anyone watching this week’s debate could plainly see. Brian Williams pointed out that there have been 234 executions during Rick Perry’s tenure as governor of Texas, and the audience burst into wild applause.

Will Frank Guinta support Eric Cantor’s hostage taking? Will Gene Chandler take responsibility for the dreadful budget he voted for? What do Representatives Pettengill, McCarthy, and Umberger have to say about all of the damage – and the budget they supported? Do they support applying for aid from FEMA? Do they support Eric Cantor’s extremism?

Wait, watch, and remember; you’ll be entering a voting booth in 2012.

published as an op-ed in the September 9, 2011 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper.
big h/t to Danziger for the great cartoon.
© 2011 sbruce


CraftyVeggie said...

Great article Susan and these same sentiments have been echoed by many on various sites and blogs regarding just this. And that is, that right wingers have a big collective mouth about their love of Jesus, biblical values, pro-life etc, but every one of their actions scream hypocrisy. Warmongering, intolerance, torture, hatred for those of other color/culture, intolerance for the poor, uneducated and down trodden, love of money, greed, the list is endless. The right also appear to be rather dense. Without taxes levelled at every member of society in a fair and balanced way, our nation cannot hope to produce educated, healthy future taxpaying citizens living in a nation with the finest infrastructure. It was impossible not to see the sneering and open disdain on Herr Boehners face as well as Rand Paul and many others last night. They are very much like their white counterparts in the days of apartheid South Africa, who denied basic human rights and dignity to Africans in the guise of "our God tells us we are right". And yes Michelle, God did cause the earthquake because he doesn't approve of your love of drilling and fracking and God may be planning that "ya'll" will be real close next time the earth opens up.

Anonymous said...

There are some who want this country to they can blame the president for it.There are some who want to keep people poor, so they use them to do the jobs they don't want to do, to fight the wars they don't want to fight.
There are some who don't like the color of this President. If you receive emails from some..then you know who they are.They even could be your friends or your family.
You can never change them, they are who they are.
We see the flood damage in NH that has been done, and for our own NH Kelley Ayotte to vote against Hurricane Irene Disaster Relief is shocking, but so is most of her voting record. I don't know how the former Gov. Sununu and the former Sen. John Sununu(new owners of Waterville Valley) who's place she took and who's roads to WV have been washed out and are not repaired yet, feel about her vote. At least they know how the rest of NH feels. I hope others well remember her thank you to all of those who lost everything during this flood.