The Spectacle Blog

A Bad Idea

By on 9.27.05 | 8:54AM

Okay, so we're about to go through another round of Congressional "reforms" of the disaster relief biz. The (Homer) Simpsonian D'OHS is badly in need of reform, and that's just how it'll be done: badly. Now, the prez is talking about handing the whole mess over to DoD. Bad idea, as follows:

1. The states shouldn't be shoved out of the picture because the feds will always -- inevitably -- be the second response. The Posse Comitatus Act -- which prevents, in almost all circumstances, the use of federal troops to perform law enforcement tasks, was meant to preserve states' authority over their own citizenry. Let's not throw the federalist baby out with the Rita floodwaters. Repealing or mangling the PCA could give the Feds more power than the founders ever intended. We don't want military government of states and cities. We want responsible (i.e., un-Louisianan) local governments to function quickly and effectively to provide primary police and national guard assets;

2. The money isn't there. The Defense budget is about 3.2% of GNP, lower than it was in the Cold War. We're barely -- and I do mean barely -- managing the war as is, getting along on the "supplemental appropriations" passed every year. The DOHS gets many billions to protect and manage the homeland. If DoD is tasked to do that job, it those billions will have to be given to the Pentagon. There ain't no peace dividend in time of war.

3. DOHS -- which is still a cluster@#*^ -- has spent billions on elaborate plans to prevent and manage terror, and all they have to show for it is a lot of expensive studies. They control everything from some intel functions to immigration. Better to fix DOHS and make FEMA better than to lay this on DoD.

4. Soldiers are meant to kill people and break things. I don't want them cross-trained as homebuilders, plumbers, and baby sitters.

5. DoD can -- and should -- provide massive logistical support in any big disaster. Any more direct role is inconsistent with its mission and prone to abuse of federal power.

Nuff said, for now.

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