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Who Should Respond to Hurricane Sandy?
When a natural disaster strikes, who should take the lead in responding to the crisis? In modern times, Americans seem to look first to the federal government. But it was not always this way, as my colleague Amity Shlaes explains in her recent column for Bloomberg.
Whew. That was the general reaction when President Barack Obama told waterlogged New Jersey that “we are here for you.” After all, these days, a president is expected to “be here.” Federal rescue is the American Way. Being there starts with helping to clear the flooded metropolitan-area tunnels between New Jersey and New York. But the concept extends to bridges, roads and all the other infrastructure challenges up and down the Atlantic coast after Hurricane Sandy. Such rescue seems like a no-brainer during crises. Yet the misty deification of Washington as exclusive rescuer isn’t necessarily warranted. In fact, the U.S. suffers from a collective and politically induced amnesia that obscures the reality: There are many American ways to build infrastructure and manage it in emergencies. In the past, state and regional governments often managed disasters. Even businesses ran big domestic rescues. Read More