Let's look at it from a different way. From an Ohio perspective, I sure think so. We have very few disasters. If we don't force Texas and Louisiana to spend their own money on their own issues, then Ohioans have to subsidize it. Because fundamentally, when you talk about FEMA and nationalization, that's what you're saying. It's not as if the money coming from nowhere. That money comes from the 50 states that fund FEMA. So if Texas and Louisiana are allowed to not fund these things and they're allowed to essentially federalize them, all that really means is Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois, which have very few disasters in any given year, are subsidizing the bad decision making down South. The only way we're going to get that to change is if we get FEMA out of the routine and force states to actually allocate funds accordingly. Because if they don't, believe you me, Bobby Jindal and Rick Perry will be held accountable by their voters if they fail to adequately respond to what is a state based disaster and not a federal disaster. That's the only way we're going to get that accountability.
How well do you think FEMA is doing its job these days?
We'll get a good picture out of Sandy in the next few weeks. But that will only give us part of the story. The other part is an event where we don't have a chance to see it coming. We've yet to see FEMA tested with a 7.5 or an 8 point Richter Scale earthquake in California, or a massive terrorist attack, or some type of volcano. Something that is a no-notice event. You can see the Hurricane coming and move things into position. What we have not yet seen is how will FEMA do when a no-notice event hits, and we don't have the luxury of pre-positioning supplies like we've been doing since Katrina.That's where we'll truly find out if, in the years since Katrina -- or 9-11 or Northridge -- FEMA has put in place the kind of capabilities needed to handle those types of events.
Romney seemed to suggest we should give the private sector more of a role in disaster relief. How would that work?
I'm not quite certain that what they're saying is privatize this stuff as we would, let's say, a toll booth. I don't think that's what people mean. I think what they mean to ask is, "Is there a greater role we can have for private sector actors, who, because they're driven by the profit motive, can get things open more quickly, then respond?"
Look, if Walmart's open and has water, why are we trucking water to give out for free? If victims can go into a store that is open to get water or food, why are we handing it out for free? All that does is undermine the private sector businesses out there, whether it's a Waffle House or a local hardware store. By providing tarps, providing water, providing food, we're displacing the private sector, harming the private economy, and putting greater strain on FEMA to deliver things when those things may be available right across the street.