Hurricane Sandy prompts two sharply divergent views on how society should respond

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Occupy Wall Street, the group alleged to be the left’s answer to the tea party. But you might hear more about these messages yesterday from the group expressing apparent approval of the wrecked state of New York City post-Hurricane Sandy:

Go outside. Meet your neighbors. Talk. Share a meal. When capitalism retreats, our communities flourish. #sandy #nyc

No subways. No electricity. No chains. #capitalism #sandy #nyc

As capitalism halts, we experience “an exceptional period of mutual support and common care.” http://ow.ly/eSX4t #sandy #nyc @StrikeDebt

I don’t think the person tweeting from the OWS account really believes things would be better in a world with so much physical destruction (although, in light of the way OWS treated the Manhattan park where it held its famous rallies last year, I may be giving him/her too much credit). I do, however, think these messages betray an astounding lack of recognition that free-market capitalism is the most accurate system mankind has yet devised to represent how members of a community want to interact with one another.

So, when OWS tweets,”Insurance is the capitalist answer to what should be an effort of mutual aid from the community. #sandy,” while philosophizing, “That community you’re experiencing, in the face of crisis? It’s always there. Think about what it is that usually obscures it. #sandy,” it’s missing the point that people usually don’t “experience” “community” in this way because they’d prefer to make other arrangements and not live like the world is collapsing around them. Arrangements such as insurance.

But whither government? After all, liberals like to say government is “simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.” That sentiment, however, suggests everyone is always on board with what government takes from them and does on their behalf. The more government does, the less that’s true.

Back to the topic at hand: That doesn’t mean conservatives think government should be out of the disaster-relief business altogether — even if some of us think government should refrain from some other spending and set that money aside to make sure we don’t have to borrow money to cover these expenses, while others believe the more local and state governments can handle emergency management, the better it will be done. (Not to mention that the private sector is often quicker and more efficient in delivering aid than government agencies, as Wal-Mart famously demonstrated in post-Katrina New Orleans.)

This topic tends not to get the thoughtful treatment it deserves in the midst of a crisis, and then it’s usually forgotten once the crisis leaves the headlines. So, we get broad claims about Mitt Romney’s alleged heartlessness based on one brief segment of one interview in which he promoted a federalist approach to disaster relief. Which is about as fair as it would be for me now to point out that President Obama has said nice things in the past about OWS and argue he must necessarily subscribe to its anti-capitalist view of how the world works.

– By Kyle Wingfield

331 comments Add your comment

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

October 31st, 2012
11:26 am

The answer, Kyle, as in all things in life (sans extremists), lies somewhere in the middle.

Can the private sector do some things better than government in a disaster? Of course it can. You only have to witness the American Red Cross in action following each and every disaster to see that. And without the donations from the private sector to the Red Cross, their record wouldn’t be as good as it is. But they only fill a particular niche in the relief equation.

The Federal government has a role as well. In many cases, they alone can provide some of the industrial and military-grade equipment to clear out large-scale debris and destruction in a case such as Sandy. Their ability to provide short-term financial relief through guarantees is also helpful.

The bulk of the feet on the ground will be the local and state relief efforts, as they always have been.
Private sector utility companies will all step up and assist from states all over the nation to get that power grid back up and running.

It is a symbiotic relationship where all parts need to work together to get results, and it largely does them well in times of great need. I was struck, however, with Obama’s remarks the other day at the Red Cross HQ, where he actually directed the Federal portion of the relief effort to essentially get out of the way regarding paperwork, regulations, and red tape, and to just make it happen.

Would that he could think that way on a daily basis.

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

October 31st, 2012
11:33 am

Those who have contracted with evil insurance companies (or abused the taxpayers by purchasing flood insurance at below-market rates) to cover such losses will be quickly made whole. Those relying on government will be waiting for whatever scraps are available.

Beyond The Middle of the Road

October 31st, 2012
11:34 am

“Would that he could think that way on a daily basis.”

A crisis often requires extraordinary measures. If you’re rushing your mother to the hospital I wouldn’t blame you if you make illegal left turns, fail to stop at red lights, don’t buckle your seat belt and speed like hell. But during ordinary times those rules and regulations are there for valid reasons.

iggy

October 31st, 2012
11:38 am

The devastation in NJ, NY is only an appetizer of what we are in for should Oblunder be re-elected.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

October 31st, 2012
11:41 am

Sorry, Middle, but if those rules are in place in “ordinary” times, you just don’t willy-nilly decide to ignore them following a storm. The life and death situations are largely over, so your rushing mom to the hospital situation no longer applies.

If you find the rules cumbersome during times like these, you should change the rules in ordinary times to eliminate their cumbersome nature.

Matz

October 31st, 2012
11:42 am

For MORE fun, follow the tweets of LOLGOP:
“Hi, Gov. Christie, this is the Romney campaign. We have 100 cans of garbanzo beans, a robe & 4 copies of Eat, Pray, Love for storm relief.”

MANGLER

October 31st, 2012
11:45 am

Where did the OWS activists go during the storm and flooding? Did they ride it out on the sand bags? Did they climb up into trees? They better not have gone to a shelter! That would be, sort of hypocritical.

Matz

October 31st, 2012
11:45 am

“Mitt Romney’s entire campaign is a charity event for the 1 percent.” LOLGOP

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 31st, 2012
11:46 am

will be quickly made whole.

LOL, are you 12?

John

October 31st, 2012
11:48 am

“That doesn’t mean conservatives think government should be out of the disaster-relief business altogether ”

Have you forgotten Romney’s famous lines about taking it out of federal hands is giving it to the states is good and giving it to private secror is even better. Of course now, when pressed about it several times yesterday, he ignored every single question on it.

You mentioned the slow response during Katrina (under a Republican president) but failed to mention the quick response to Sandy (under a Democrat president). Republican Chris Christy is praising Obama and the federal government’s response. And Michael Brown (remember him) is critizing the federal government for acting too quickly.

ByteMe - Got ilk?

October 31st, 2012
11:49 am

(Not to mention that the private sector is often quicker and more efficient in delivering aid than government agencies, as Wal-Mart famously demonstrated in post-Katrina New Orleans.)

Good idea, bringing up an incompetent FEMA run by a Bush crony as an example where pretty much a blind duck could do better. Perhaps FEMA is doing better under new management? Where’s the recent example of FEMA failing so visibly?

BenDaho

October 31st, 2012
11:50 am

Obama saying lets cut the red tape and help the people is about as brilliant as saying yes when presented with the opportunity to kill Osama Bin Laden. And the liberal lemmings find brilliance in him.

JDW

October 31st, 2012
11:52 am

@Kyle…”So, we get broad claims about Mitt Romney’s alleged heartlessness based on one brief segment of one interview in which he promoted a federalist approach to disaster relief. Which is about as fair as it would be for me now to point out that President Obama has said nice things in the past about OWS and argue he must necessarily subscribe to its anti-capitalist view of how the world works.”

Except that Obama has certainly not supported the beliefs espoused by the Twitter feeds, while Romney has reiterated his in the statement earlier this week…

“Governor Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions,”

On a related note guess who thinks Obama acted too quickly to prepare…why “Brownie” himself…

“I noted that the president should have let the governors and mayors deal with the storm until it got closer to hitting the coastal areas along the Washington, D.C.-New York City corridor.”

You are right there are “two sharply divergent views on how society should respond”

Lambeau

October 31st, 2012
11:53 am

And democrats bashing Romney for trying to help is just pathetic. If you flip it around, they would be praising Obama for holding an event to try and give support to those in the northeast.

H.E. Pennypacker

October 31st, 2012
11:53 am

I believe Governor Romney has had multiple opportunities to clarify his view on FEMA and disaster relief, but has chosen to avoid the question.

Obama may have expressed verbal sympathy towards OWS, but he provided them and many of the rest of us the ultimate slap in the face with his appointment of Timothy Geitner as Secretary of the Treasury.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

October 31st, 2012
11:53 am

Well, I see it didn’t take long at all for any thoughtfulness to be thrown out the window. :roll:

Is it any wonder that occurred right after the libs got on board?

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

October 31st, 2012
11:54 am

So what did the other 99.99% of the government do this weekend?

Randy Ayn

October 31st, 2012
11:55 am

A lot of those beachfront homes destroyed were owned by very rich people. I remember how the insurance companies weren’t going to pay for flood damage after Katrina, as the policies clearly stated flood damage was not covered. Of course, Trent Lott, wealthy Republican from Mississippi, and owner of a mansion near the beach, sued State Farm and received a settlement. I guess my little payments to State Farm helped pay for that. That’s a redistribution of wealth that the GOP can get behind.

JF McNamara

October 31st, 2012
12:02 pm

Disaster relief is and should remain a federal activity. The southern states, by far the poorest, are the people often in need from hurricane relief. Left to handle the problem alone, states like Mississippi and Alabama would have to raise taxes in a massive way to cover the occasional hurricane damage.

On top of that, I don’t really trust my state to handle a disaster situation well because it is contained. If Georgia needs help from Florida and South Carolina, how does that get coordinated? If Florida and South Carolina are in trouble too, then the whole system falls apart.

We already tried the federalist system from 1777-1789. The exact problems they had are what I described in the paragraph above. States couldn’t or wouldn’t coordinate. Maybe we have it right as is and we should leave it alone. Aside from Katrina (which was caused by horrific management), its worked out very well for us.

carlosgvv

October 31st, 2012
12:05 pm

When things are going well, it’s easy to talk about local and state governments handling emergency management. However, when a Katrina or Sandy hits and your material and pyschic world has gone to hell in a handbasket, you want relief NOW, and it won’t matter at all if it comes from the Federal Government.

ragnar danneskjold

October 31st, 2012
12:06 pm

Those pictures from NYC almost look as bad as Nashville did a couple of years ago. Big diff, though – NYC will not recover nearly so quickly, because it lacks the private industry infrastructure. In NYC, everyone depends on the government for everything.

Kyle Wingfield

October 31st, 2012
12:07 pm

JDW @ 11:52: The unfairness I was talking about is the allegation that this stance means Romney is heartless, rather than espousing a different way of accomplishing the same thing.

ByteMe - Got ilk?

October 31st, 2012
12:07 pm

I remember how the insurance companies weren’t going to pay for flood damage after Katrina, as the policies clearly stated flood damage was not covered. Of course, Trent Lott, wealthy Republican from Mississippi, and owner of a mansion near the beach, sued State Farm and received a settlement

Did they actually settle? I know his lawyer in the case was indicted for witness tampering and bribery related to the case. But I can’t find anything saying that they actually came to a settlement and what the settlement was.

cc

October 31st, 2012
12:08 pm

“Have you forgotten Romney’s famous lines about taking it out of federal hands is giving it to the states is good and giving it to private secror is even better.”

Have YOU forgotten that we have a president running $1.4+ trillion deficits annually, has increased the national debt by $6+ trillion and that we are indebted #16+ trillion? How would you suggest such natural disasters be approached? How about people purchasing ADEQUATE insurance to cover any potential losses? Now, that is a unique idea!

Tealiban Party

October 31st, 2012
12:09 pm

Chris Christie, fierce Obama critic, praises president’s response to Hurricane Sandy

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who has blasted President Obama’s leadership, heaped praise on Obama on Tuesday for his handling of Hurricane Sandy.

“The president has been outstanding in this and so have the folks at FEMA,” Christie said on NBC’s “Today” show.

Christie, whose state is among the hardest hit by the storm, made appearances on several morning talk shows on Tuesday and applauded Obama at each stop.

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Christie said “the president has been all over this, and he deserves great credit. He gave me his number at the White House and told me to call him if I needed anything and he absolutely means it, and it’s been very good working with the president and his administration.”

On CNN’s “Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien,” Christie added that Obama “has been incredibly supportive and helpful to our state, and not once did he bring up the election.”

http://www.boston.com/politicalintelligence/2012/10/30/chris-christie-fierce-obama-critic-praises-president-response-hurricane-sandy/0JUUf3NDsg6GuUleJr20XJ/story.html

Don't Tread

October 31st, 2012
12:10 pm

I knew it wouldn’t be long before OWS celebrated the destruction on…wait for it…Wall Street. The pictures of NYC look like the scenes from a video game.

I’m surprised at how many in the Northeast don’t have flood insurance.

Just Saying..

October 31st, 2012
12:10 pm

Nobody in favor of the Chris Christie approach…?

Always the Benjamins

October 31st, 2012
12:11 pm

Interesting the coverage of this storm along with the photo/video images being so different than Katrina. Where are the thousands of people needing rescue, hanging on rooftops, why wasn’t Madison Square Garden opened to allow people in (followed by the inevitable trashing of it by the people sheltered there, someone explain that to me?)? Maybe the people in the Middle Atlantic and Northeast are just smarter and actually paid heed to the warning given them, rather than trying to ride it out. New Orleans being 10 feet BELOW sea level also added to the problem, but you live in a place like that and you can’t help but expect a disaster to occur.
The whole thing seems way less dramatized (despite far wider destruction affecting probably 5-10x the number of people). Why is that?

iggy

October 31st, 2012
12:12 pm

We will see how helpful people will feel Obama is in say 25 days from now when this mess still remains….

Lil' Barry Bailout - Vote American

October 31st, 2012
12:12 pm

Leave it to libtards to think insurance companies should cover losses they weren’t contracted to cover. Morons.

Randy Ayn

October 31st, 2012
12:12 pm

ragnar – ever been to Nashville or NYC? You can build all of Nashville with a few 2×4’s, some sheetrock and a coat of latex. NYC is a little more complicated. Oh, and, when you are able to travel without your parents, I suggest you go to NYC – you’ll see plenty of private industry. It’s pretty much the capital of private industry for the world.

iggy

October 31st, 2012
12:14 pm

“I’m surprised at how many in the Northeast don’t have flood insurance.”

Really? Everyone knows how much more intelligent northerners are than us dumb southerners. They probably have piggy banks stashed full of dollars to pay for their lack of flood insurance ie, they choose to “self-insure.”

Randy Ayn

October 31st, 2012
12:15 pm

Lil Barry – guess you’re including Trent Lott as a libtard. On another note, I’m assuming OWS is today’s Rush/Fox topic. There’s got to be a reason so many sheeple are commenting on it.

JDW

October 31st, 2012
12:22 pm

@Kyle…fair enough…I don’t think Romney is heartless just wrong and without concrete political beliefs.

BTW, Silver has one of the more interesting looks at the numbers today…boils down to state polls are always more accurate, they don’t agree with the National Tracking polls and EVERY site that aggregates poll data has reached the same conclusion on the current status of the race.

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/10/31/oct-30-what-state-polls-suggest-about-the-national-popular-vote/

cc

October 31st, 2012
12:23 pm

Hmmm . . . Michigan may be up for grabs? What a shock!

iggy

October 31st, 2012
12:25 pm

“The whole thing seems way less dramatized (despite far wider destruction affecting probably 5-10x the number of people). Why is that?”

Because at this point, it isnt Bushs fault. Should it become Bushs fault the coverage will become intense with addl aspects of rape, murder, extortion, robberys, and just general chaos.

BenDaho

October 31st, 2012
12:25 pm

Randy Ayn

October 31st, 2012
12:12 pm
ragnar – ever been to Nashville or NYC? You can build all of Nashville with a few 2×4’s, some sheetrock and a coat of latex. NYC is a little more complicated. Oh, and, when you are able to travel without your parents, I suggest you go to NYC – you’ll see plenty of private industry. It’s pretty much the capital of private industry for the world.

It won’t be for too much longer so you better get there soon ragnar.

http://247wallst.com/2012/03/19/the-six-states-where-tax-revenues-are-soaring/3/

Tealiban Party

October 31st, 2012
12:27 pm

Tuesday, on “Fox and Friends,” NJ Governor Chris Christie was asked by host Steve Doocy… “whether he would invite Mitt Romney to New Jersey to survey storm damage.

“I have a job to do,” he said. “I’ve got 2.4 million people out of power, I’ve got devastation on the shore, I’ve got floods in the northern part of my state. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics then you don’t know me.”

“I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested,” he said. “I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics and I could care less about any of that stuff.”

http://thehill.com/video/campaign/264853-gov-christie-i-dont-give-a-damn-about-presidential-politics-right-now

cc

October 31st, 2012
12:29 pm

“with addl aspects of rape, murder, extortion, robberys, and just general chaos.”

iggy, you left out looting!

MarkV

October 31st, 2012
12:30 pm

I have read many Kyle’s articles, which I had my reservations with, but I do not remember one so utterly ridiculous. Kyle selects a few meaningless tweets from OCW and from them spins a whole set of nonsense.

“I do, however, think these messages betray an astounding lack of recognition that free-market capitalism is the most accurate system mankind has yet devised to represent how members of a community want to interact with one another.”

Capitalism is “an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth.” It is the most efficient system for this purpose, but that does not, by itself, “represent” how members of a community want to interact with one another. Members of some primitive society, which does not have the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth of a modern capitalist society, still might have an even better way “to interact with one another.” What do the words “accurate system” mean anyway in this respect? ACCURATE?

But the purpose of Kyle’s article seems obvious: to counteract the recognition, that in time of a natural disaster, such as hurricane Sandy, we do indeed want the government to help those in need, and in case of such a large area destruction, it is the federal government that has the means and is best positioned to provide assistance. It is quite ridiculous to argue that “the private sector is often quicker and more efficient in delivering aid than government agencies,” and presenting as evidence “what Wal-Mart famously demonstrated in post-Katrina New Orleans,” to cover the incompetence of the Bush administration.

It is equally ridiculous to compare something nice that president Obama said in the past about OWS in general with the very specific view that Mitt Romney presented in the specific case of disaster relief, and which has now become a political liability.

cc

October 31st, 2012
12:31 pm

iggy:

You also left out sniping at police officers!

iggy

October 31st, 2012
12:31 pm

Oh yeah…and coolers of Heineken being dragged thru the murky waters.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

October 31st, 2012
12:32 pm

“It is quite ridiculous to argue that “the private sector is often quicker and more efficient in delivering aid than government agencies”

Actually, it isn’t ridiculous, as the Red Cross proves each and every disaster, MarkV.

cc

October 31st, 2012
12:35 pm

. . . and who can ever forget the interview of the displaced mother who said, “My chirrun have to commit crimes in a strange city!”

david c

October 31st, 2012
12:41 pm

“Leave it to libtards to think insurance companies should cover losses they weren’t contracted to cover. Morons.”
You mean libtards like Trent Lott?

Hillbilly D

October 31st, 2012
12:43 pm

You can build all of Nashville with a few 2×4’s, some sheetrock and a coat of latex.

Not hardly.

JDW

October 31st, 2012
12:44 pm

@iggy…”Because at this point, it isnt Bushs fault. Should it become Bushs fault the coverage will become intense with addl aspects of rape, murder, extortion, robberys, and just general chaos”

Wrong…its because unlike Katrina the government was prepared and has won nothing but praise from those invovled.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 31st, 2012
12:45 pm

Maybe the people in the Middle Atlantic and Northeast are just smarter and actually paid heed to the warning given them

The adequate, incessant repetition of the danger is the difference between Katrina and Sandy. Nagin was told he would need 24 hours to evacuate the city but he waited until there were only 12 hours left. He also turned down an empty Amtrak train offering a free ride to get citizens out of harms way.

We learned a lesson during Katrina – that’s why we were inundated from Friday to Sunday last week.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

October 31st, 2012
12:46 pm

Nothing in those tweets is saying capitalism is bad; it’s saying this is an opportunity to put aside the greed and remember we are a community/society/country.

teaching taxpayer

October 31st, 2012
12:46 pm

@Lil Barry, I understand insults, even nasty ones, are par for the course on these blogs. Your “-tards” as your insult of choice for liberals tells us a lot more about you then it does about liberals, however. Haven’t you learned by now that insulting people with a legitimate disability is low, very low. I think you can do better — can you?