But as Katrina demonstrated to us all, planned preparations for foreseen national emergencies are just not the Bushists' thing. Nor is it much the concern of the GOP Congress, which has slashed funding for emergency services, bio-medical research and the Centers for Disease Control. The request for influenza research this year was $119 million. Presumably, this is one of the "big government" programs that Grover Norquist and his gang would like to "drown in a bathtub." By way of contrast, the Congress readily appropriated $10 billion (with a "b") for anti-ballistic missile defense – a "defense" against a non-existent threat that does not, and arguably can not work.
Perhaps a few million e-mails to Grover Norquist reminding him of this quote are appropriate now, before the tragedy hits?
See, there are some things government does poorly, and some things government does well, and some things only government CAN do.
What does government do well? Anything that needs to be organized on a massive scale. Hurricane relief springs to mind, although you'd never know it from these clowns in office, whom I suspect deliberately hampered the Katrina and Wilma relief efforts, not out of a sense of racism or classism, but simply to soften people up to the idea that we'll have to make do with less from government.
Given the lax attitude that Bush has shown to tough solutions to tough problems, this is no surprise to me. Clinton would have worked to find a fair solution that didn't bankrupt the nation. Bush threw a couple of cool sounding phrases together et voila! A disaster plan.
Seeing as how he is forcing this nation into bankruptcy and its people right along with it, a perfectly logical way of doing things.
What does government do poorly? Minutiae, and here is where Newt and I might agree on a few things (although he'd be far more rapacious than I). The Federal government simply shouldn't be in the housing business. Fannie Mae was a ridiculous idea. Better the government should have given the money over to states and municipalities with the mandate that the money go towards low-cost mortgages, targeted to the poor and working classes.
See, most of the Fannie Mae money did go there, but I can tell you stories of how this program was abused such that I see, personally, large multimillion dollar companies getting Fannie Mae mortgages for major commercial properties, properties that any bank for a reasonable percentage above Fannie Mae mortgages, would be happy to finance.
And so that leaves what only government can do.
That seems pretty simple, if you look at its strength. ONLY government can mobilize a national crisis response: war, terror, and yes, pandemic.
But ONLY government can fund this, and if you examine the budget for the sciences and health sectors of government, guess what you'll find: gutted programs, lost opportunities, and silly regulations that allow government research to be privatized by multibillion dollar corporations which make multimillion dollars off each patented technology it is basically given by the National Institutes of Health or Sciences.
What would be wrong with the NIH keeping a patent, but licensing it out?
Nothing, except for some stupid regulations that Republicans seem determined to maintain. And that's why stem cell research is shot to hell here, and that's why the avian flu will be solved not here, but in Asia and Europe, by countries who have no beholdence to our people, and certainly no love for our government.
We're in deep trouble when we have to rely on the charity of China in order to survive.