Magazine article Insight on the News
Deliver Us Lord from Federal Disaster Relief
Hurricane Opal created the worst storm people in Auburn, Ala., can remember. Trees crashed through houses, power lines fell like confetti and cars were crushed like bugs.
Even as Opal's eye passed over our town, the federal government was butting in with promises of aid. It's not enough that we have suffered so much damage. Now the rest of the country will be taxed to clean it up.
Who will end up with the government's money? Bureaucrats and other people who know how to get political pork when it's offered. The rest of us will get by through hard work and enterprise, and cooperation with family, friends and neighbors.
After the storm, there was no time to waste waiting for Bill Clinton's generosity with other people's money. Citizens began cleaning up their houses and neighborhoods at daybreak. They checked on the weak and vulnerable and brought food to those in need. Town work crews cleared essential streets and repaired water pipes damaged by uprooted trees. Downed electric lines started to go up again.
By the afternoon, large crews were joining in. Men with chainsaws went house to house to cut away pines and hardwoods blocking driveways. Crews of young people cleaned up yards. Everyone was willing to tend a hand.
Insurance offices opened their doors to take claims and processed them quickly, so as not to risk losing future business. We were fine on essentials, thanks to local grocery and hardware stores. They fired up their generators and worked at low light to make sure everyone had the batteries and foodstuffs they needed. That too creates loyal customers. Free enterprise, not government, made it possible.
Private life went on unimpeded. Radios were tuned to local news to hear tips and damage reports. When it became too dark to work, people gathered with their neighbors to tell stories of the day. Adults read by candlelight and children learned that you don't need a television to be entertained.
All this took place without a central plan. When we work to pursue what's in our own interest, and show generosity toward others, we are doing what's best for the whole community, and what's natural to capitalism. Not even 100-mph winds can uproot the miracles of the marketplace and voluntary charity. …