October 31 2012
Kudos to the wit who gave us this gem of a headline:
A Big Storm Requires Big Bird?
It’s the headline for James Taranto’s takedown of the new elite media meme that says that the federal response to Sandy proves that we need all around big government.
The New York Times instigated the meme with an editorial that made this claim: “Disaster relief is one of the most vital functions of ‘big government,’ which is why Mitt Romney wants to eliminate it.”
I guess if it were less “vital,” he’d give it a pass and keep picking on Big Bird?
But Mitt Romney never said he would eliminate disaster relief. What Romney actually said is that he would return many emergency functions to the states. While the New York Times paints a picture of “a properly functioning federal agency” (FEMA) sublimely in control of disaster relief, it should also be noted that state and local governments are already more crucial in these operations than FEMA:
If you spent hours yesterday watching local TV news in New York, as we did, you saw a lot of Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and you heard a lot about state and local policemen, firemen and other emergency personnel. The federal government's role was largely invisible.
FEMA’s work, however, is important, a fact nobody is contesting. Still, as Taranto points out, the necessity of federal disaster relief doesn’t somehow justify Solyndra (or any of the other 50 reportedly bankrupt green energy companies taxpayers bankrolled), subsidies for Big Bird, or Obamacare.
What I find so astonishing about the highly-educated promoters of the Sandy=Big Bird meme is their flawed logic: if the federal government is needed for disaster relief, ipso facto, it must also fund public television? This kind of logic does not speak well for the opinion makers at the New York Times.