Excuse me, but if a government does not take care of its people in a time of true crisis, what exactly is its purpose? GOP/Tea Party House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Presidential Candidate Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) both competed Sunday for ‘heartless bastard of the year’ honours by declaring on US national television repeatedly, the USA should not be in the business of bailing out those whose property was damaged by Hurricane Irene unless further politically motivated budget cuts and offsets were found beforehand? Now FEMA’s (The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s) budget will become a fall GOP/Tea Party blackmail-laced political football just like air safety was at the beginning of the summer. And all of this because spending on so many disasters has already used up all of their money. Excuse me for rarely using an obscenity, but what the fuck are they thinking?
This was Cantor’s third foray into this murky pool this calendar year alone having earlier made similar remarks following last week’s earthquake, which largely and karma- or comically (your choice) affected his constituency home district! (They just are so proud of him!)
And he started this meme before the bodies were discovered, recovered and buried following the horrific levelling this spring of Joplin, Missouri; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; and other parts of the south and Midwest USA by tornadoes. Every time he opens his mouth, I am completely gobsmacked by what spews out.
Can you imagine in 1953 (and again in the 1980s), the Dutch Tweede Kamer saying to thousands of people flooded and clinging to rooftops by the failure of the dyke system, we’ll get out there to rescue you when Parliament is done debating offset cuts. Hang in there?
Not only did the government help those people, it built the world’s most sophisticated system of water and tide management dykes to prevent a recurrence. In the USA, the Army Corp of Engineers still can’t protect New Orleans and admits the levees there will likely fail again.
Or what if the Japanese Diet followed the same GOP/Tea Party logic and said after the tsunami, “sorry, you’ll have to wait because we need to find budget offsets before we dispatch rescue crews to help you find your loved ones washed away, and that gentleman clinging to your roof 60 miles out to sea, we need to have a discussion on whether or not to expend the fuel to save you? Oh and you farmers harmed by nuclear radiation? No subsidies for you until we take it out of the school system’s budget, those collective bargaining extravagant teachers are the cause of all things evil?”
Even Communist China after the massive Szechuan 8.0 earthquake had killed 70,000 people, mobilised unprecedented government efforts to help survivors. They have rebuilt and made $500 billion dollar investments in trains and infrastructure, while Cantor’s party cannot even debate let alone approve funds or taxes to build/save existing crumbling bridges and roadways?
As British PM David Cameron is learning the hard way, mindless cuts and austerity come with a price. Cutting police and tying their hands behind their back with paperwork created a disastrous riot situation a few weeks ago. What if, instead of ideological cuts (that haven’t saved a penny and indeed have cost the treasury money) out of the box 15-months ago, the PM instead said to Deputy Dawg PM and human paintball target Nick Clegg, “we’re not going to cut anything until you do what Al Gore did in 1993 and ’94. As Deputy PM, I want you to go department by department and take on the Civil Service. Your remit is but one thing, cut all waste, fraud and abuse across the UK government. Then we will tally it all up and see what we need.”
Labour would have been hard pressed to fight any of those actions and might even have signed on for the good of the country. OK, that last line was a bridge too far… but the poisonous nature of politics today is not solving any of the big issues needing ‘courageous’ attention, Minister.
The US and UK are on a slippery slope to decades of decline unless real leadership is found across the board. At least here in the EU though, when people are in true need from a disaster, we rally around and help each other.
So to the grieving parents of the 11-year old boy killed when a tree fell on his apartment in Newport News, Virginia leaving them bereaved and homeless; the hundreds of homeowners whose houses and roofs were destroyed or taken away by the powerful sea; and the 2 million people on the east coast without electrical power… if Eric and Ron have their way? You’re on your own.
Since I started with an obscenity, I’ll blow the publication’s £1 in the swear jar for each usage wad in this one article. “Compassionate conservatism my ass.” You should be ashamed of yourselves.
Denis G Campbell is the author of 6 books including 'Billionaire Boys Election Freak Show,' 'The Vagina Wars' & 'Egypt Unsh@ckled.' He is the editor of UK Progressive Magazine and provides commentary to the BBC, itv Al Jazeera English, CNN, MSNBC and others. His weekly 'World View with Denis Campbell' segment can be heard every Thursday on the globally syndicated The David Pakman Show. You can follow him on Twitter via @UKProgressive and on Facebook.
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