Friday, January 18, 2013

We donít need unnatural disasters

We all live with the possibility of natural disasters. Ice storms, blizzards, tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes do massive damage in a matter of seconds.

But there are unnatural disasters with which we must contend after the ground stops shaking and the rain stops falling. That kind of disaster occurs because a handful of radical conservatives in the U.S. House of Representatives have gained the power to stop legislation that historically has provided the resources so necessary after a calamity.

In deciding to vote against the bill to aid victims of Superstorm Sandy, Idaho Reps. Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador would have done better to remember the Teton Dam collapse in 1976. Sugar City, Rexburg and other eastern Idaho communities didn’t get a tough-luck message from Congress. They got help.

Within hours, Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus, a Democrat, and President Gerald Ford, a Republican, declared flooded counties a disaster area. Federal and state resources were then added to the resources of local churches and charities.

This nation has always recognized that only the federal government is capable of marshaling resources for a major disaster. Elected officials have never before argued that those whose homes and fields and roads were destroyed, whose children needed food and shelter, should have to survive and recover on their own.

According to a HuffPost/YouGov Poll, 64 percent of Americans favor the federal government’s providing assistance to communities impacted by natural disasters. This same majority needs to prevent the additional disaster of a well-organized minority stymieing the will of the majority.

Disaster relief is not a political game. It goes to the heart of who we are as a nation.

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