Living near the coast in the Northeast, I see the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy firsthand. Many have been without power for days; there are long lines at gas stations; some supermarket shelves are bare; and, more to the point here, some in vulnerable areas lost their homes. And because the storm is such a horrible, high-profile disaster, government aid to rebuild is in the offing. But should it be?
This question may seem heartless. And, don't worry, you won't hear a politician asking it anytime soon, as doing so might very well cost him the next election. But political expediency isn’t always synonymous with fairness.
Let’s start like this: On the day Sandy struck and every day since, there surely have been low-profile disasters in other parts of the country. Perhaps someone’s home was struck by lightning and burned down, maybe an anomalous and isolated flood destroyed a lonely hinterland abode, or it could have been something else. This is a big country and many things happen.
And the question is, if you suffer such a disaster and have no insurance, will Uncle Sam ride to the rescue with tax dollars? We know the answer. But why the different treatment?
In reality, Washington won’t even get wind of your woes; your story won’t be national news. And a prerequisite for getting help is getting noticed — in a big way. You have to be part of something deemed a “disaster area,” which simply amounts to labeling some disasters more equal than others. Lose your home during a news and photo-op worthy event, and you get bailed out; but if helping you won’t win votes or TV viewers, you get bupkes. And is this not a type of unjust discrimination? Now for a bit more perspective.
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