Friday, 4 January 2013

Deficits are terrible! except when they're not

Isn’t it interesting how all talk of tax-and-spend excess, government profligacy and the urgent need to reduce deficits goes flying out the window as soon as a hurricane/ natural disaster comes flying in, followed by distressing scenes of damage to the gee-whiz-just-regular-folks?

New Jersey governor Christie made political hay Wednesday with a blistering attack on his fellow Republicans for not ponying up the Sandy relief money PRONTO. That is, he blasted them for acting in accordance with their anti-tax, anti-spending rhetoric even though—how dare they??!!—Christie’s constituents, especially including beach-residing white people, were the ones affected this time.

A Washington Post blog article today points out that the federal share of disaster relief has risen steadily in recent years while private insurers contribute less. States of course, can do little as they have been bled white by Republican-led, Democrat-complicit reductions in their tax base, on top of assaults on federal revenue-sharing in obeisance to the Austerity God. But when they want the cash for their pet projects, boy are they ready to turn purple and demand to get it right effing now!

Ezra Klein cites a new study in the blog about this mission creep toward Uncle Sam and away from private insurers about who picks up more of the costs of disasters. Given the lawlessness with which insurance companies operate in general (see Spike Lee’s film on Katrina, When the Levees Broke, for some graphic examples), along with their now-immunized-from-prosecution finance sector brethren, this is hardly surprising. Furthermore, natural disasters are just getting interesting due to rising sea levels and rapidly shifting weather patterns—we can expect tons more fun in this arena.

It’s a good reminder that the cut-cut-cut, oh-no-we-can’t-afford-that ideology that dates to the Reagan years and now has been endorsed by Obama is religion, not science. When the burn-and-slash brigades find things they want and need, money always, always will suddenly appear out of nowhere.

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