September 08, 2005

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Bush's Second Gulf Disaster Link: TomPaine.com - Bush's Second Gulf Disaster. By Terry Karl Believing FEMA to be an “oversized entitlement program” and that the “business of government is not to provide services,” Bush’s first FEMA director instituted new outsourcing requirements as part of a major privatization effort. This provoked a brain drain as experienced FEMA personnel moved into the private sector. Privatization also left poorer states and poorer communities especially vulnerable. As money dried up and federal programs were contracted out to private firms at higher rates, only the richest and politically most important states and communities could compete successfully for the scarce federal grants necessary to pay for services. For example, Florida (with 16 more electoral votes than Louisiana and where the president’s brother governs) received its requested funding to protect its wetlands. By contrast, a more needy Louisiana (with its staggering 24 percent poverty rate) was denied its request for flood-mitigation funds in 2004. With Louisiana’s ability to protect itself weakened and the center of disaster relief badly undermined, an inadequate government response and unnecessary destruction were almost inevitable—with the poor paying the price. But the failure of this administration runs deeper than its chronic and intentional diversion of resources away from the types of policies that keep people safe from disaster. Despite scientific evidence demonstrating that the increased intensity and frequency of hurricanes is related to climate change, the Bush administration systematically rejects participation in international climate-protection regimes. Rather than continue a ban on wetlands development instituted by previous administrations,...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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