On his radio show today, Glenn Beck expressed outrage at the idea that the government helps any disaster victims, which includes the future victims of Hurricane Irene.
Here is the audio from Media Matters:
In response to piece of audio of a woman saying that the government has got to help disaster victims Beck said,
That’s the problem isn’t it. Listen to this woman. They have the last one hundred years of this country we have so distorted what set us apart. Eight years ago, eighty years ago, we had no federal programs, none, and when the federal government tried to come and help a town that had been flooded out, the people of the town met the federal government in the middle of the street and said turn your damn trucks around. Get the hell out of our town, that’s not your place.
We’ve done that to this. We now have this woman saying oh, when there’s a disaster you’ve gotta to help. No, we help each other. We are good neighbors to each other. We will provide better help for each other than the government could ever. Tell me what the government does right? Besides the military, what does the government do right, and you know what, the military only does it right because the politicians are too much of a pus, and they’re not going to push the military very far. They at least, because they know you won’t allow them to do that. The politicians damn near screw up our military every step of the way. They’re the only part of the government that really is arm’s length from the politicians. That’s why we have a decent military, not because of the politicians, in spite of the politicians.
Besides the military, what do they do well? Space program? Oh yeah, no wait, WE JUST PUT THAT OUT OF BUSINESS!! Tell me.
Despite what Beck said, the United States has a long history of federal disaster relief. The first known federal disaster relief programs occurred after Portsmouth, New Hampshire fires of 1802 and 1805. This was followed by the Norfolk fire of 1804, and the New York fire of 1835. There was also federal relief provided after the New Madrid earthquakes in Missouri in 1811 and 1812.
There was no federal disaster relief provided between 1836 and 1864, but in 1917 the federal government took the first steps towards providing federal disaster relief. However, there wasn’t a more federalized role until The Federal Disaster Relief Act was passed in 1950.
Beck’s claim that until 80 years ago there were no federal disaster relief programs is not true. This history of this country proves him wrong. More troubling than Glenn Beck’s ignorance of American history is the attitude that the federal government shouldn’t help after a natural disaster. One of the government’s primary responsibilities is to protect all of its citizens. Glenn Beck wants to define protection only in military terms, but the public outrage at the bungled federal response to Hurricane Katrina demonstrated that the American people expect more.
Glenn Beck and his ilk may hate the government, but if he is a victim of a crime he expects the police to show up when he calls. If his house catches on fire, he expects the fire department to put it out. If his the town he lives in floods, and puts him in a situation where all of his money is worthless, do you really think that he or is family will care whether the people rescuing them are public or private?
The biggest hole in the no federal disaster aid should ever be administered argument is that it doesn’t acknowledge that disasters will occur that are too large for the private sector to handle. Yes, we all should be good neighbors in a time of crisis, but what happens when the disaster is big that all the good neighbors in our country can’t cope with it?
As a major hurricane barrels towards the United States, Glenn Beck is advocating that we don’t use the government to help the victims. Beck is saying that these victims have to hope that enough private aid can be raised and it can be provided to them.
This callous and ideological attitude of Glenn Beck should strike most Americans and un-American. If history is any sort of guide, Hurricane Irene is going to damage, destroy, injure, and kill when it arrives in this country. This debate isn’t about big government versus small government, or public versus private. It is about doing what is right.
Glenn Beck is outraged, but fortunately for those in the path of Hurricane Irene, the federal government is already waiting to help them.