You know what happened on Tuesday that was utterly astonishing? I received mail. Tuesday is, of course, a standard mail delivery day. Not a holiday, nothing like that. The incredible thing about getting my daily mail on Tuesday, October 30 2012 is that the entirety of Monday, October 29 was spent enduring the worst storm that New York City had seen in decades. The damage incurred Monday will last days, weeks, maybe months. Explosions, fires, power outages, halted (and flooded) mass transit, hundreds of thousands of displaced residents. I want to take this opportunity to observe the minor miracle of getting my daily mail within hours of astronomical high tide superstorm flooding, and thank the US Postal Service.
Wait… Ronald Reagan’s wisdom tells us that Government isn’t the solution to the problem, it is, in fact, the problem. Curse those letter carriers working for modest salaries, in Reagan’s name I curse thee for being the problem, problematically delivering my magazines, solicitations, and bills through a federal disaster area in the name of service. I wonder what other government agencies caused us problems this time around…?
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (and the National Weather Service): employing publicly funded high tech measuring equipment that allowed us not only to forecast the coming of the Hurricane with many days of warning and preparation, but also to predict with stunning accuracy the path, characteristics, and effects of the storm. Fuck you! Fuck you for saving us billions of dollars and untold numbers of lives, fuck you!
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency): FEMA does so much it’s hard to describe. Basically, FEMA supplies resources and logistical support to coordinate the one kajillion different mechanisms that go into responding to a catastrophe of this scale–from working with local utility companies and the Department of Energy to restore power quickly, to supplying and distributing essentials like water, meals, and blankets, to deploying the National Guard, Coast Guard, and Army Corps of Engineers (also Government agencies!) to assist local police and fire departments in saving and protecting life and property. Also if you’ve lost work because of the storm, FEMA can provide financial assistance to individuals and businesses to get through the rough patch. Go to Hell, FEMA. 99 Problems! Because your funding is publicly financed and not the product of profit-motivated individualist marketeering I spurn your “aid”, you feckless dicks.
Local Police and Fire Departments: For saving our elderly trapped in flooded homes, for helping those people trapped in their cars by fallen trees or rising waters, for stopping a raging electrical fire before it engulfed the entire borough, for working during a fucking hurricane in the first place, for all this and much, much more I say go fuck yourselves. Why do you insist on killing America? Surely you could find greater pay in the private markets, and because your desire to serve compels you to risk your life for merely middle class remunerations I know, I know that this is another case of government run amok. You can tell because only when stupid, inefficient Government is involved do people’s motivations for action get traced to something other than money.
I guess, through this lens, it is a testament to Barack Obama’s terrible leadership qualities that all of the above problems suck so bad at failing. Even Republican Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie couldn’t resist commenting (over and over again) about how much the Government failed to fail us in this disaster. Obama somehow screwed that up. It’s not like the good old days of the Bush administration. Those guys knew how to succeed at letting Government be a problem, because that’s what they believed it was.
As a New York City resident I’m sure glad I lucked out with government officials at the local, state, and federal levels that believe that helping Americans through a disaster is their job. I sure hope that’s the case when the next disaster happens–it won’t necessarily. Mitt Romney as been achingly clear that he doesn’t think disaster management should be the President’s job. But just like the New York Magazine in my mailbox on Tuesday afternoon, I am thankful for the miracle of service-minded Americans before, during, and after the storm.