Gnikivar writes:

I hope this isn't a derail, but I don't think its fair to blame the destruction caused by the 1900 FEMA. First, the Hurricane that hit Galveston was a hurricane of incredible proportions. The hurricane was a class four hurricane, only 3 hurricanes have hit the us with higher intensity. Moreover, during the 19th century, building codes were often a lot laxer than they are today. We didn't have nearly the same level of technology such as radar and modern medical technology. The quality of building construction was especially low in 19th century boomtowns. Between 1880 and 1900, the population of Galveston almost doubled. Many of the new inhabitants were poor migrants (often black) who lived in substandard housing. None of this had to do with FEMA, but made the odds of substantial death tolls much higher. India has a national disaster organization, but the same disaster always causes far more casualties because India (like the US in the 1900s) is a poor and developing country. 

Second, I don't see why states shouldn't play a bigger role in reconstruction and disaster preparedness. Right now Florida, and other gulf coast states know what types of disasters they are likely to face, and have the equipment and personnell necessary to deal with them. Similarly, CA knows about earthquakes and the northeast about snowstorms. I don't see what's reactionary about believing that more of disaster relief should be done by people who understand the specific disasters best. 

Finally, some people have pointed out that Galveston was not rebuilt in the aftermath of the great storm. I do not, however believe this was strictly speaking accurate. In 1900 (before the storm) the population was around 37,000. By 1920, the population recovered to around 42,000. Odds are New Orleans, despite massive federal intervention (just to be clear, I don't think federal intervention causes cities to stagnate, but I wanted to put things into perspective) will not fare better. Galveston has grown at a steady pace since. The city ceased to be Texas's primary port, because more people realized how vulnerable the city was to weather, and moved further inland to Houston. One sees a similar trend in Lousiana today. Often times spending hundreds of billions of dollars to keep a city where it is despite economic and climatic realities only wastes money, locks people in dead end jobs and entrenches poverty when spending the money to help people adapt to new situations would be wiser. 

 In short, I don't see what's so horrible about what Ron Paul said.

I have a rather deep disdain for the notion that things would be immediately improved by a dialing back the clock. 

That said, in terms of my post I think the important thing is the first portion of Gnikivar's dissent. I left the rather silly implication that FEMA, specifically, could have prevented the massive death toll. It was sloppy writing, provoked by sloppier thinking. It was also wrong.

The rest we can debate about, but I think the continuing debate should proceed from me making that portion clear.

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