Monday, August 5, 2013

Editorial: Where's my daddy?

Today the unnamed editor complains that the federal government is not leaping in to assuage the wounded community of Yarnell, vaguely blames the President and Congress, and hopes aloud that Governor Brewer will "get the President's attention" to do something for the "handful of people" who lost everything.

This from the paper that consistently endorses the myth of independence from government and reliance on local charitable resources when we find ourselves in trouble, anything to reduce the editor's tax obligations. His continuous milking of the Yarnell tragedy has devolved to just another flavor of me-ism.

The editor does not say what he'd like "the feds" to do, exactly. Print money and hand it to the Yarnellians? Set up a FEMA camp for people who already have somewhere to stay? Send the FHA to build new homes for them? Free ponies and ice cream? I can't imagine.

The event was clearly a disaster for Yarnell, but its scale does not qualify for federal disaster status and, more to the point, it can't even be called unexpected given the geography of the area and the fire-friendly conditions we regularly experience in the county.

Yet the editor continues to bury his head on the starvation of the Forest Service and state fire resources over the past few years, most importantly the disastrous too-stupid-to-be-used "sequester" plan to reduce government functions and services, as well as the anti-American Republicans in Congress doing all they can to impede government processes and services. In that context the editor illustrates the pennywise pound-foolishness that has become "conservative" dogma.

So the editor asks "Where's my daddy?" and I have to say his fellow "conservatives" have Daddy tied up in the basement. Point the finger at yourself, editor, you keep voting for this kind of result.

Here's what a progressive government would do: accept some responsibility for the failure of fire protection and provide federally secured grants and loans for rebuilding uninsured primary housing, insist on adequate insurance in wildland interfaces going forward, and require insurance carriers to live up to their obligations through transparent, comprehensive coverage. At the state level we can do a lot more to limit society's exposure to fanciful decisions to build homes in areas that are difficult or impossible to secure, and to recognize that this kind of risk is increasing with climate change.