For the past week, that clucking class of liberals that always seems to find itself on our television screens has hovered above the tragedy and chaos that Hurricane Sandy left in her wake, assigning points to the Dems, defeats to the GOP and validation from heaven for all its schemes and ideas.
After all, we can’t have a weather event without the reliable street preachers chiming in, saying climate is not the same as weather except in the cases that promote their ideology, and proclaiming that if only America sacrificed its industry on the altar of environmentalism, the storm gods would show mercy. See, with these clowns, there isn’t an event on the damn planet — from wildfires to home runs — that doesn’t confirm their world view. And we know this, and we deal with this.
But as the dust settled and we took in what was going down on the ground, a strange world emerged: A world where Democrats in New York peeled away regulations; a world where an NGO took the lead in recovery and private businesses came to the rescue; and a world where Chris Christie, a top-dog surrogate for Mitt Romney, appeared in campaign-ready photos with President Barack Obama.
Aside from how damn weird these things are, for good and for bad they all confirm the conservative world view. As, of course, conservatism being right and good, all things do.
The hell are we talking about? Here it is:
1) Attention: Emergency (de)regulations are now in effect
During and after the storm, in an effort to help the most people in the worst trouble the fastest, the powers that be actually loosened their grip, allowing market efficiency to step in.
So while some governments respond to shortages and emergencies with nationalization and stricter controls, at a Friday press conference, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed an unusual request: He had asked the federal government to relax the protectionist provisions of the Jones Act — an act that makes it so that only American vessels, crews and companies can transport goods between American ports — so that gas could reach the energy-starved region. The feds complied.
In addition, in an effort to increase the speed and efficiency with which energy reached the coast, Mr. Cuomo waived the docking taxes and registration process tankers typically have to endure when anchoring in New York Harbor.
Meanwhile, to increase the number of taxi drivers on the chaotic streets, the overseers of that heavily regulated industry relaxed the rules: Instead of limiting cabs to only being able to pick up one additional customer while on a route, and regulating the cost, the city stepped back, allowing the negotiations to take place directly between the customer and merchant. In addition, lanes into the city usually reserved for official vehicles or car pools of three or more allowed taxis access, regardless of how many people were in the car.
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that making it easier to complete a transaction will make it easier to complete a transaction, but damn if we weren’t surprised that the city that invented the Big Gulp ban figured that one out.
2) Nonprofit leaders and capitalist heroes
Ever since Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has been synonymous with disaster relief (or lack thereof). But something is different with Sandy: The folks who are leading the humanitarian charge are the American Red Cross — a national network of chapters of volunteers funded by charitable donations.
Seemingly every relief operation at work in New York and New Jersey has the American Red Cross’ name on it. Their volunteers, vehicles, equipment and supplies cover the map and, in many instances, got there first.
That’s right — the same guys who get their cash from our old clothes are at the head of this effort, and they’re doing a damn fine job of it.
Meanwhile, even the progressives over at the Huffington Post had to take a break from their man-made global warming narrative to give props to the generosity of the capitalist pigs. From providing free showers and laptop access to cutting ATM fees, an article in Business Insider highlighted a helping hand from Comcast, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, among other notable villains.
In fact, the only group of people that seems to have not let this crisis go to waste are the unions. Although politicians deny it is happening, by Friday afternoon firms in Florida, Georgia and Alabama had already complained to TheDC that the locals were trying to force them to unionize if they wanted to help in the relief efforts. Go figure.
3) The hostage-takers
Finally, much ado has been made about the right’s favorite ax-grinder, Mr. Christie, pulling a Charlie Crist and embracing his sworn enemy, Mr. Obama. And while conspiracies have ranged from a plot to derail Romney to a bid for a shout out from Bruce Springsteen, there’s a far more likely explanation: For the past century, the feds have been confiscating money and forcing states to kiss the ring if they want it back.
Make no mistake: Mr. Christie isn’t trading bear hugs for manpower. On the ground in New Jersey, FEMA has two basic roles: Coordinate different efforts and hand out cash.
Yeah, those FEMA search-and-rescue crews weren’t airlifted in — they’re the same local crews that have always launched search-and-rescue operations, they’re just wearing a new uniform. And while the crews may be more effective now, they did manage to operate before FEMA, and may even operate some day after FEMA.
So if not the boots, it must be the cash that Jersey needed from Obama.
But last year, the Garden State’s gross domestic product was nearly $500 billion — putting it soundly among the leading economies in the United States and the world. So why, when hit with a hurricane, does Mr. Christie need Mr. Obama’s money? We mean, the federal government can print money, but it doesn’t actually create — it redistributes — so all the feds are really doing is giving New Jerseyans back their cash, maybe with a little thrown in from the rest of us.
And the feds have a lot of New Jersey’s cash.
In 2011, for example, for every dollar New Jerseyans paid in federal taxes, they received less than half of it back, while the rest went to fund projects in other states and pay bureaucrats.
A bedrock of conservative tax philosophy is that we can spend our money better than the guy next door can spend it, and the guy next door can spend our money better than the governor, and the governor can sure as hell spend our money better than the feds. So expect to see a lot more efficiency from local charities, police and firemen than from the feds.
But local efficiency is not the only thing at stake here: The ring-kissing highlights a second bedrock conservative critique of taxation — one in which New Jerseyans find themselves both the victims and the beggars.
See, to take from one man to give to another makes a victim of the first, a beggar of the second and a villain of their government.
If anyone doubts this for a second, take a look at the papers: A proud and responsible governor of a wealthy state, who is staunchly opposed to the president, needs the president to handle an issue because, well, the president holds the purse strings to a whole lot of his state’s cash.
Above all, Sandy has visited violence and tragedy on the Eastern Seaboard. Meanwhile, the sideshow media circus has thrown sand in the eyes of every conservative. Pundits and politicians have opined both on how the coverage will derail Romney and how the storm is proof of man-made climate change. But, like with most situations, when we brush the beltway bedwetters and the climate clowns aside for a minute, a clearer picture of Americans, and Americans under duress, emerges. Just wash away the mud and the chatter in this one instance, and three things are clear: The free market is the most efficient and reliable provider for human needs; private individuals — not governments — are their own greatest allies; and even when we think we need the Man to swoop in and save us, all we really need is our money back.