Hurricanes bring destructive winds and torrential rain from Texas to the Carolinas and the Caribbean up to the Ohio Valley. Wildfires eat up very expensive real estate in California. Just in the Mother Nature category alone, headlines tell tales of devastation and economic ruin in many parts of our fair mainland and territories. That doesn’t even count what mankind does.
President Trump has visited almost more places in the last few weeks than he did on the campaign trail. His message always includes the promise of support for those affected by the storms and flames. Damages are running into the billions of dollars. Federal help is apparently available and offered each time. I’m not quite sure what that means, but the money has to come from somewhere. Not to sound unsympathetic, but is there some kind of secret emergency fund We the People have been paying into for several years that can be made available? Or does “federal help” mean crank up the printing presses at the Mint until we run out of paper?
Also, is it first-come, first-served? Do the folks in disaster city number one get first dibs on whatever help is available? If so, what happens to the people in subsequent natural misfortunes? I don’t know for sure, but the situation might be similar to what happened in my own neighborhood.
During the 32 years we lived in our home, the house next door had six different families occupy it. Not together, mind you. Trying to be good neighbors, the first time a new family moved in, we took them a “welcome-to-the-cul-de-sac” gift. It wasn’t like a big-screen TV or anything.
But let’s say it was. When those people left and the second new neighbors moved in, we said hello with something worthwhile, but a bit less fancy, – say, a microwave oven. But by the time the sixth new family took up residence, I’m pretty sure we left a sack with two glazed doughnuts in it on their front stoop with a form letter that started with “Dear,” but had a space after it to write in a name.
I’m wondering if a similar type of scenario might play out should there be any other natural events take place in another part of the country anytime soon. Suppose there’s a tidal wave in Indiana or some freakish thing like that. What’s left in the federal coffers for the find folks in Ft. Wayne to tap into? What if an earthquake creates a giant sinkhole and swallows up Iowa? Ottumwans are not going to be happy if there’s nada left for them.
Since virtually everything has a political overtone attached to it these days, I’m wondering if certain deals can be made that might help speed the relief process along. For example, California legislators, both in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., are generally shouting “NO” every time the Administration says, “YES,” on any given subject. Might there be a little horse-trading in the trenches? “Tell you what. We’ll send money if you build a wall.”
The coal industry has been given new life of late with the lifting of restrictions put in place during the Obama years. What better way to kick-start that business than by suggesting to Puerto Rico that sending a few barges of bituminous ore to San Juan will help get (and keep) the lights on?
Perhaps even American-made steel could be used to re-build Florida. It’s pretty obvious that whatever materials have been used don’t really stand up well. Get rid of that stucco stuff. Reinforce the walls with solid steel and put every house on pilings. Water and wind won’t stand a chance against beams and girders. I imagine a few people in Pittsburgh still know how to smelt pots of molten magic in Bessemer behemoths.
The horse-trading possibilities are endless – but probably won’t happen. Americans as a whole are a generous lot. We really don’t like to see people hurting, especially if it wasn’t their fault. It’s not in our nature to worry about costs when it comes to helping the afflicted. We don’t particularly care for Cabinet members flying in private jets when there’s a perfectly good seat in coach on Delta available. But we have no problem making sure water and food get into the hands of mothers and children.
Let’s hope, though, that calamities of any sort are over for a long time. It’s going to take some time to sort through the current catastrophes. And while consensus building may not yet be Mr. Trump’s forte, he definitely knows how to build buildings.
©MMXVII. William J. Lewis, III