Stop Bailing out Disaster Victims

Article excerpt

Richard Krimm, an associate director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), recently held a press conference to describe plans for aiding southern California's c earthquake victims. He detailed FEMA's relief efforts, and he conveyed an attitude of cooperation toward state and local agencies. But he seemed perplexed that California officials had turned down FEMA's offer of tents for citizens left homeless by the quake.

I submit that we should all start "turning down the tents." Let's stop depending on the federal government to bail us out of every problem. Victims who are not adequately covered by private insurance should be taken care of through private charity. And, if government is going to be involved, it should be on a local or state level.

Under the Federal Response Plan, 26 government agencies swing into action whenever there is a major catastrophe. Billions of dollars of American taxpayers' hard-earned dollars are redistributed by way of Washington for disaster relief.

FEMA initially estimated it would spend $500 million on this earthquake, almost half the current balance in the Disaster Relief Fund. The Clinton administration committed another $240 million from other agencies. And now the president is requesting billions more from Congress.

Such expenses may seem justified, because most Americans feel compassion when we hear of the plight of fellow citizens who have survived a disaster. But those who want to centralize power take full advantage of this yearning to help. Bureaucrats use it to push through more and more tax appropriations for more and more relief programs.

But we need to put a stop to this. …