Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Anti-Earthquake Tea Party Government

I hate hypotheticals. It was probably law school that did me in. I know the point was to create absolutely impossible factual situations to test our reasoning skills when there is no real solution. I just think that reality gives us clearer options in which to act. At least you can appropriately rely on the spirit or instinct when all else fails which is hard to do in a law-school hypothetical.

But I do ponder this question, and it's not entirely hypothetical. How does an anti-government philosophy deal with the real potential of a horrific earthquake? or tsunami? or nuclear reactor disaster? or all three?!! I don't think a free market emphasis, private property, and freedom from governmental intrusion have much relevance from what I see in those videos from Japan.

This Japanese horror has me really disturbed. I guess because it has been so well documented with all the videos and news coverage. It was even worse in the Indian Ocean tsunami of a few years ago. And there have been devastating earthquakes with much more loss of life in many third-world areas where video cameras are not that common. The nightmare of Haiti continues.

The Japanese people and their government are to be complemented along with our condolences because it could have been so much worse. And some things simply can't be foreseen or mitigated. But everyone knows the Japanese are a serious-minded,communal people and they have prepared many years for earthquake disasters.

In this country too, we have many laws and regulations to help prevent or mitigate earthquake risks. I'm sure that many find them expensive and burdensome  And I don't see they are that much different from protections for clean air, clean water, public safety and health in so many regulatory forms. Bottom line, I don't think the Libertarian solution of everybody on their own, and if somebody pollutes or fails to adequately build a nuclear reactor, private law suits will address the wrong.

And certainly, it is private and religious generosity that help in these kinds of situations. But who is going to coordinate all that? Even right here, in my neighborhood, we just practiced an emergency response exercise this last Saturday. Centerville City, not by coincidence, organizes its disaster plans based on LDS ecclesiastical boundaries. It only makes sense. And as our block captains went around in the exercise looking for the red notices on random doors, they didn't ignore the people who aren't LDS or don't go to church. In fact, the way I envision it, everyone will certainly do the best they can for themselves in the event of catastrophe. But I think we'll also be sharing our resources to care for each other. This actually happened in a less severe disaster in 1983 when the floods came down from the mountains in those overly wet, snow-packed years.

Now I suppose a tea party response might be that "local government is the best government" but didn't I just agree with and describe that? And there are certain things that are best organized on a state level and other things best organized on a national level. The U.S. Geological Survey comes to mind. It is one of those minor little agencies in my Department of the Interior that studies earthquakes, volcanoes, along with all the mapping they do which you would hope would be a nationally consistent system (it would be a little confusing if each state did their own). Now, Governor Jindal might not care about volcano monitoring, but he might care a little about what the Corps of Engineers is doing on the Mississippi levees or what the National Weather Service is monitoring. It seems to me that might just relate to interstate commerce in ways that the free market isn't able or simply won't address. And we have the tea party Republican House at this very moment trying to slash away at those programs instead of addressing the real problems of entitlements and military spending. Bottom line, we need a national government with representatives of the people to decide these things. Yeah, it would be a lot better if they were more responsive to the people instead of just the corporate and money interests. But we are working on that as we strive for our more perfect Union.

The earthquake has me disturbed beyond hypotheticals. April 29, 1965, Seattle. It was only 6.5 which is more than I ever want to experience again. I was just a kid getting ready for school. Somehow, we all ended up in the front room when this horribly loud roaring began and the house was moving. I thought a truck had crashed into our garage with all mom's canning bottles rattling and smashing. My dad yelled, "Get down!" and we all crouched on the floor. I have the view burned in my brain as I turned both ways to see the front picture window bowing in and out and the light fixture over the dining table swinging. Nobody cried until it was over. Mom and dad comforted us (except mom was crying a little too). Then it was quite exciting to run outside to shout our experiences to the neighbors as the adults checked around for damage. We walked to school in an animated crowd of kids and had to wait (i.e. play) outside for the whole morning while they checked out the school structure. Earthquake Holiday. Nobody told me at the time that seven people were killed in the Seattle area. At least it wasn't 10,000 or horribly more.

We need our Constitutional Union to help take care of each other IMO.

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