Freeloaders Ask for Federal Dollars

Everywhere you turn, people are asking for money.

Seriously, don’t these people know they we are broke?  Where’s the personal responsibility?  Didn’t they plan ahead and get the right insurance policies to cover any and all contingencies?  Yeesh.

At a minimum, these are state level problems, shouldn’t they be handled locally for cryin’ out loud?

First, it’s people in North Carolina (After Storms, a Path of Death and Damage):

Gov. Bev Perdue of North Carolina, who said she was nearly in tears touring damaged areas Sunday, said she had been in contact with President Obama and anticipated that a federal state of emergency would be declared by week’s end.

Ms. Perdue said she met with the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Sunday and would continue to tour the state Monday.

And then Texas! (Arrest made in connection with Texas wildfire near Austin):

Gov. Rick Perry wrote in a letter late Saturday to President Barack Obama. Perry requested that the federal government declare Texas a disaster area. Fires have affected all but two of the state’s 254 counties.

[…]

Perry’s request to federal authorities — which he made late Saturday and announced Sunday — was an attempt to expedite federal assistance.

Where in the Constitution is Congress explicitly authorized to deal with the aftermaths of tornadoes and wildfires?  I have read the Federalist Papers and I don’t remember anything of the sort.

Somebody call the Tenthers, please, so we can sort all of this out.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Vast Variety says:

    I thought Texas would rather declare independence than have to take Federal dollars?

    Funny how that works out.

  2. john personna says:

    Interesting chart of Presidential declared disasters here.

  3. john personna says:

    (For the record, I don’t buy the author’s global warming connection. I think we are just increasingly free with the “disaster” status.)

  4. @JP:

    (For the record, I don’t buy the author’s global warming connection. I think we are just increasingly free with the “disaster” status.)

    I will remove the tongue from my cheek for the moment and state that I agree with that assessment.

    Although I stand by the underlying point.

  5. James Joyner says:

    It’s inherent in the notion of a union of states that the others pitch in when one’s in crisis, particularly one not of its own making. I do wonder, though, if we haven’t taken it too far with the “natural disaster” business.

    Katrina was a no-brainer. Massive devastation that undermined the local economy.

    But a few fires in Texas? Routine storm damage in the Carolinas? You’d think local contingency funds could take care of that sort of thing.

  6. ponce says:

    Pointing out wingnut hypocrisy is…a rather easy task.

    Getting them to realize they are being hypocritical is a Herculean effort.

    I heard the Texas fire was accidentally started by a homeless person just trying to stay warm.

  7. mpw280 says:

    Would this not provide evidence that the democrats ideal, that the federal government be responsible for everything, is working? Nobody has personal responsibility, counties don’t have it, states don’t have it and soon the federal government won’t have it. Sounds like the dependence on the the federal government game plan is working, though maybe some who have been sucked in by the idea are rethinking it. Anyone remember during the last months of the Clinton administration that every state of the union was declared a disaster area? mpw

  8. Drew says:

    Cute snark. Good for a laugh. But silly “analysis.”

    Any competant businessman would know that a budgeting process must allow leeway for the unexpecteds, provide first for the legitimate obligations of the firm first, and accomodate the lumpy nature of expenditure requirements.

    But in the context of government the torrential goodies givaway for votes absolutely maximizes, or exceeds, normal times expenditures every single year………and then when the rainy day comes there are no reserves, no money left for what everyone would agree is an appropriate government function/expenditure. Its incompetant fiscal management of the first order. But then, its government.

    Along these lines, we have known about the baby boom bulge and its effect on SS and health care expenditures for decades. Did we build reserves? Did we budget for the bulge? Nope. We spent our collective asses off, while taxing and borrowing to the hilt…………and now look around – childlike – saying “who knew??……………….and, hey you, 3%, you pay!!”

    And dare one propose even minor spending cuts, and you are an uncaring savage.

  9. Any competant businessman would know that a budgeting process must allow leeway for the unexpecteds, provide first for the legitimate obligations of the firm first, and accomodate the lumpy nature of expenditure requirements.

    Actually, I have seen little evidence that those in business are inherently better at this than anyone else.

    AIG and GM spring readily to mind, as does Bear Stearns.

    (And I concur that the post isn’t analysis).

  10. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    Routine storm damage in the Carolinas?

    While I agree with your basic message, I don’t think that 60 tornados in a few hours, which caused “massive devastation that undermined the local economy”, would constitute “routine” storm damage. And thus, here is the nub of the problem: at just what point do you cut off “routine” damage from other “natrual disasters”?

  11. sam says:

    We spent our collective asses off, while taxing and borrowing to the hilt…………and now look around – childlike – saying “who knew??……………….and, hey you, 3%, you pay!!”

    Horseshit. We launched two wars and an expensive drug benefit for seniors and cut taxes. Sometimes I really wonder what planet you’re on.

  12. hey norm says:

    As long as they keep the government out of my Social Security it’s all good.

  13. Southern Hoosier says:

    One is a Republican governor, the other a Democrat governor. Freeloading knows no parity affiliation.

  14. michael reynolds says:

    Interesting actually if you compare “government” to “business” as Republicans love to do.

    How many businesses have existed for more than two centuries? How many of them currently dominate their market?

    As a simple test of survival the government of the United States has outperformed every business, and most other governments. 200 years without a successful invasion or overthrow. Still working more or less from the original mission statement. Kind of impressive.

    Of course nowhere near the genius that was Enron or Lehman.

  15. Michael says:

    I have read the Federalist Papers and I don’t remember anything of the sort.

    Actually, I seem to recall this coming up at least once when they (Hamilton I think it was) were discussing the benefits of maintaining the one single union, rather than having no union at all, or multiple smaller ones.

  16. An Interested Party says:

    Sounds like the dependence on the the federal government game plan is working…

    Indeed, especially among hypocrtical Republican governors like Rick Perry…

  17. Drew says:

    “AIG and GM spring readily to mind, as does Bear Stearns.”

    3 businesses vs millions of businesses? Steven, you and I don’t agree on much, but this is beneath you. You know better.

  18. Drew says:

    slammin’ sammy –

    “Horseshit. We launched two wars and an expensive drug benefit for seniors and cut taxes. Sometimes I really wonder what planet you’re on.”

    Look at the graph:

    http://hotair.com/archives/2011/04/18/govt-handouts-exceed-taxes-as-percentage-of-average-household-income-for-first-time-since-1936/

    This has been brewing for 60 years. When you get back from Mars your card reads, bogey, doublebogey, triple bogey………..

  19. Drew says:

    “How many businesses have existed for more than two centuries? How many of them currently dominate their market?”

    Heh, funny how exposure to market forces works. It scrapes the competant from the incompetant. But government effing up, mismanaging and bringing us to the point of bankruptcy saved only by………just raise taxes……….er, screwing the people.

    Michael you truly amuse.

  20. Southern Hoosier says:

    @michael reynolds
    I don’t know of too many companies that could carry $14.27 trillion burden of outstanding debt and still stay in business. Good thing a government doesn’t have to turn a profit the way a company does.

  21. sam says:

    @Drew

    “Look at the graph:”

    Drude, I know pictures hold more appeal for you than things with subjects, verbs, and objects. But really. You made the claim that “We spent our collective asses off, while taxing and borrowing to the hilt…” — I only pointed out that we did spend our asses off (two unfunded wars, expensive drug benefit, inter alia) but we most certainly didn’t tax ourselves “to the hilt” (which is why we’re where we are, for the most part). Read the below (which accompanied the pretty picture you’re enamored with) — especially the parts I ital’ed. Doesn’t sound to me as if the author is claiming we’re overtaxed. In fact, if anything, I’d say it supports my position and not your’s.

    For the first time since the Great Depression, households are receiving more income from the government than they are paying the government in taxes. The combination ofmore cash from various programs, called transfer payments, and lower taxes has been a double-barreled boost to consumers’ buying power, while also blowing a hole in the deficit. The 1930s offer a cautionary tale: The only other time government income support exceeded taxes paid was from 1931 to 1936. That trend reversed in 1936, after a recovery was underway, and the economy fell back into a second leg of recession during 1937 and 1938.

    As then, the pattern now reflects two factors: the severe depth of the 2007-09 recession and the massive fiscal policy response to it. The recession cut deeply into tax payments as more people lost their jobs, and it boosted payments for so-called automatic stabilizers, such as unemployment insurance, that ramp up payments as the economy turns down. Plus, policy actions, including the Recovery Act, boosted payments to households by expanding and extending jobless benefits and creating other income subsidies while extending the Bush-era tax cuts and adding new reductions in income and payroll taxes.

  22. michael reynolds says:

    It scrapes the competant from the incompetant.

    So, how many companies have been “competent” for two centuries? Would that be zero?

    It’s survival of the fittest, not survival of the most ideologically correct, Drew. Evidently, judging by its survival, the USG has proven itself more fit than 100% of companies.

    And of course if you compare our government to other governments you find that very few have our longevity. It’s surprising given that we think of ourselves a s a relatively young country, but the USG is quite old as governments go. We’re still on our first republic, an unbroken succession of presidents and congresses.

  23. michael reynolds says:

    Hoosier:

    And a good thing businesses don’t have to fight wars, feed the poor or care for old people.

  24. @Drew:

    “AIG and GM spring readily to mind, as does Bear Stearns.”

    3 businesses vs millions of businesses? Steven, you and I don’t agree on much, but this is beneath you. You know better.

    Ok, so I express some skepticism that businessmen, per se, are better at risk assessment than other human beings and provided three rather obvious examples in a blog comment and this is “beneath me”? I must confess, you lost me there.

    And really, if you want to go raw numbers, you must know that the vast majority of all businesses fail, so I am not sure how that helps your position.

    Of course, raw number comparisons don’t strike me as especially relevant, to be honest.

  25. Drew says:

    “And really, if you want to go raw numbers, you must know that the vast majority of all businesses fail, so I am not sure how that helps your position…………”Of course, raw number comparisons don’t strike me as especially relevant, to be honest.”

    Suit yourself, and this puts you in Reynolds’ camp. But the last time I looked it was private enterprise that funded the government. Not the other way around. Private enterprise does not have the ability to legislate its revenue, so when it fails in the marketplace, it goes under. And I will repeat, if you do not understand that, I’m shocked. And yes, its beneath you. I read your stuff. You know better.

    If you’d care to make the case that government is a profit center and self funding, and that private enterprise is the drag, please do.

  26. Drew says:

    “Drude, I know pictures hold more appeal for you than things with subjects, verbs, and objects.”

    blah, blah, blah

    Graphs are nothing more than a format to present data. Fact: taxes over the last 50 years have approximately doubled per household. Fact: transfer payments over the past 50 years have tripled to quadrupled. Fact: we ain’t seen nothing yet, because the demographics are what they are. The latent spending explosion is just now hitting. Fact: no feasible amount of taxation can fund this. Fact: people like me who have been saying for 20 years now that we are headed like a bug toward a windshield are right. Fact: measure it anyway that makes you feel better – we are still so fiscally imbalanced that the situation is absurd, and approaching irresolvable.

    Do I have the wrong sam? I thought you were a math guy. This ain’t Green’s Theorem, its basic arithmetic. You should be embarrassed.

  27. Drew says:

    By the way, Steven –

    I do happen to be a businessman, a private equity investor to be exact. And its axiomatic in our business that if we see a business that is government sponsored……….head for the hills.

    18 months ago we saw a good dozen solar deals going bankrupt and in need of capital to stay alive. I just looked at one last week. Govt subsidy runs 30% to 80% of initial capital costs. Most never make it. Savvy investors those government guys.

    I could tell you stories…….

  28. @Drew:

    I am honestly not sure what your point is about the numbers issues, as you were the one that raised the issue of “millions of businesses” to make your point, but my simple counter point is that since more businesses fail than succeed, I am not sure how a raw numbers comparison makes you case. However, I am likewise not arguing that it makes mine. Indeed, at this point, we are rather far afield of my point.

  29. john personna says:

    If every class of institution fails (government, business, religions, schools) then the logical answer is to spread responsibility widely between them, not to concentrate power in one class of institution, magnifying each failure.

    The market democracies have broadly done this for a hundred years or two, and reaped the rewards.

    The commies tried concentrating all with the state and saw that failure. Sadly, the slow students saw communism fall and did not recognize the triumph of a balanced economy. No, the dullards thought it was good cause to re-concentrate power with the market.

    … we’ve had dozens of failures to demonstrate the flaws in that plan, but hey, these are the slow learners.

  30. @Drew:

    Private enterprise does not have the ability to legislate its revenue, so when it fails in the marketplace, it goes under. And I will repeat, if you do not understand that, I’m shocked. And yes, its beneath you. I read your stuff. You know better.

    I don’t recall claiming otherwise.

    All I said was that I am less convinced than are you about the ability of businessmen to predict and manage emergencies and cited three examples. You didn’t actually refute the point, you just keep telling me it’s “beneath me.”

  31. john personna says:

    Apropos of lack of balance, and oversight, Pro-Publican just won a Pulitzer for The Wall Street Money Machine

  32. Private enterprise does not have the ability to legislate its revenue, so when it fails in the marketplace, it goes under.

    One more point on this one: except when it is bailed out or, less dramatically and more commonly, uses government-sanctioned mechanisms to declare bankruptcy and restructure itself.

    It is not always the stark world of live or die. Government needs business, yes but also business needs government.

  33. andrew says:

    LOL. The classic Leftist strawman that conservative=anarchist, therefore any spending request by a conservative is hypocritical. Typical intellectual dishonesty from Steven Taylor.

  34. michael reynolds says:

    JP:

    If every class of institution fails (government, business, religions, schools) then the logical answer is to spread responsibility widely between them, not to concentrate power in one class of institution, magnifying each failure.

    That is a wonderfully clear statement that actually gave me a new perspective. Very interesting. New synaptic connection formed.

  35. john personna says:

    😉

  36. Rock says:

    What has happened to FEMA since Obama was anointed? I never hear anything about FEMA in the news. I remember that FEMA was a popular agency when Bush was president. They must be doing a great job now and good news doesn’t make the nightly news. Either that or there’s been no natural disasters requiring FEMA to ride to the rescue. Funny how that all works now.

  37. jwest says:

    “Government needs business, yes but also business needs government.”

    Actually, what business needs is the rule of law, applied evenly without regard to race, religion, ideology, social position or income.

    This is one of the big differences between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives want one rule that they can plan for and follow with reasonable certainty. Liberals want to change the rules as it suits their ever-changing idea of how society should be shaped.

    Free market versus central planning.

  38. @jwest:

    Government is required for rule of law, as such we saying the same thing there,

    And you offer an utterly false dichotomy here:

    Free market versus central planning.

    First, no one of any significance in the US is calling for central planning.

    Second, there are no fully free markets.

    Third, the issue of state involvement in an economy is on a spectrum. One has to come to grips with that fact. The presence, for example, of bankruptcy laws are a incursion into the market. As are safety standards and a thousand other things.

  39. john personna says:

    @Rock, Obama has actually already declared more Federal Disasters than Bush. Which may not be a good thing in itself, but no “Katrina-like stories” were really pinned on him, though it was tried with the oil spill.

    @jwest, if that was all conservatives wanted, they would not have driven a huge “markets are self-regulating wave” through the Bush years. A wave which crashed, of course.

  40. […] was the point of my snark yesterday?  There were multiple […]

  41. jwest says:

    Steven,

    Bankruptcy laws are simply a codification of what business would do among themselves without government. When a business failed to meet its obligations, those who were owed or had an interest would divide the remaining assets in a logical manner, or if an argument could be made to allow the business to continue, an accommodation would be reached.

    I am not arguing against government. Government is necessary and desirable to have if it sticks to what it should do and doesn’t venture into areas it shouldn’t.

    “First, no one of any significance in the US is calling for central planning.”

    As long as you put Obama into the “no one of any significance” category, you’re right. Otherwise, I can’t believe you would make a statement so demonstrably false. There is precious little that this administration has proposed or done that isn’t blatant central planning.

  42. @jwest:

    The only way to allow a bankruptcy process to work is through government. The notion that this is simply the codification of what businesses would do by themselves strikes me as simplistic at best.

    And all I can say is that we must be using different definitions of “central planning”.

  43. Michael says:

    There is precious little that this administration has proposed or done that isn’t blatant central planning.

    [Citation Needed]

  44. wr says:

    For jwest, “central planning” means “anything I don’t like today.” Oddly, it’s the same definition as socialism, communism, and affirmative action.