Sunday :: Sep 3, 2006

Consequences of Government Failures


by Duckman GR

Scout Prime has a piece over at First Draft I highly recommend. It has everything a good show should have, death, destruction, comedy, sarcasm, pictures, the befuddled fool, why yes, it has a lot to recommend. For instance,

It’s working for the Bush administration. See they tell the nation we’re spending $110 Billion to rebuild the Gulf Coast but then drag out actually sending the money to the Gulf Coast so that after a year they only send 40% of it down there…well actually give it to contractors not real people in Louisiana or Mississippi.

This is just a shameful period in our history, that such contemptible people are running this country, and their response to Katrina proves it. Not surprised by the policy-less White House mind you, but by the ability of so many on the right to dismiss the whole affair as inconsequential and untidy at best, but not something that bushco should be held accountable for, far from it, it's the Democrats in Louisiana's fault don't you know.

So I had a thought to compare the recovery post Katrina with that of Los Angeles after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, and I found some interesting information. This study from the California Policy Research Center, University of California has a good analysis of the recovery of housing, with a focus on 3 different areas of the city. Here's a couple of conclusions to note. One was that the average rebuilding time was 23 months, and 5 months for relocation of renters.

Here's a couple of other things to note, my bolds throughout..

The Northridge earthquake hit a region that was among the best prepared in the nation for such a disaster. As this report demonstrated, the federal government and its agencies responded immediately and, by many indications, successfully to the challenge.

[…]

A major contributing factor in the recovery and reconstruction of the built environment was the distribution of significant amounts of federal funds as grants and loans. As noted, agencies made serious efforts to ensure that program funds reached their target populations indiscriminately. However, this study found that despite these efforts, the recovery mechanisms initiated by the federal government left areas with high percentages of marginalized populations with relatively less assistance than other areas.

[…]

► FEMA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development should develop a more integrated approach to federal assistance for multifamily structures.

The rehabilitation of multifamily properties should not be left to market forces alone. ... While private investment will always play a critical role in rebuilding damaged properties, the private sector is more likely to operate where risks are lower and returns are higher. [DGR-Something about that "Free Market" and it's responsibility to the bottom line again] In the case of widespread damage, under current federal programs, neighborhoods deemed less desirable from an investment perspective would be left with practically no recourse for the rehabilitation of multifamily housing.

In the Northridge earthquake, HUD played a pivotal role in providing federal assistance to low income and disadvantaged communities. This was the result of a concerted effort by HUD, FEMA, the White House, and local housing departments. However, no established rules or guidelines are in place that guarantee the implementation of a similar approach in future disasters.

But see, HUD has been under assault since forever, for instance:

All of this leads to a bottom line — the cuts in low-income housing and community development programs and other discretionary programs included in the VA-HUD appropriations bill are being used to help fund an oversized tax cut that would overwhelmingly benefit the nation's wealthiest individuals.

Need I remind you who was running the HUD appropriations committee then?

From 1994-1999, [Jerry] Lewis was the chairman of the VA-HUD and Independent Agencies Subcommittee, the panel responsible for funding federal housing, veterans affairs, NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Science Foundation, and other federal agencies.

Or there's this,

As promised by ... Bush and ... Cheney, the FY06 budget proposal that they sent to Congress ... makes deep cuts in domestic spending to signal their intention to reduce the federal deficit of $413 billion. One of the hardest hit is [HUD], cut from $32.4 billion in FY05 to $28.5 billion for FY06. While the effects of the HUD cuts will be deeply felt in every low income community in the country, they will make little difference to the deficit.

Or there's this from '04:

In the House Financial Services Committee hearing on the budget, Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), pointed out that the $90 million proposed cut to the Capital Fund is one of many cuts faced by public housing in the Administration’s FY 2004 proposed HUD budget, and that strongly suggests that the White House intends to abandon public housing and the affordable housing needs of the country. As noted earlier in the context of HOPE VI, Senate VA-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman expressed disappointment in the cut to the Public Housing Capitol Fund, in part, because every other area of the public housing budget is cut, leaving nothing to take up the slack.

I could go on, but you get the drift. The point being that when you starve a critical agency of funding, an agency that has been instrumental in natural disaster recovery in the past, you're all but guaranteeing failure when the next disaster occurs. FEMA trailers are not housing, they're camping out, and 2 weeks is about the max for most people on vacation. Try it for 6 months.

In conclusion, government matters. The republicans have put so much pressure on domestic agencies and programs like HUD to fund their tax cuts and to fund their invasion and occupation of Iraq that they're unable to perform their functions of securing the homeland and protecting the American People. And it's not by accident.

Duckman GR :: 10:02 PM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!