BUZ LIVINGSTON: This one needed a name

Published: Sunday, May 11, 2014 at 08:56 AM.

If the recent flooding affected your business take the damage survey at http://flvbeoc.org/index.php?action=bda. Florida’s Emergency Response Team can use the results to accurately assess the need and level of assistance for impacted businesses.  Thanks to Travis Currie, Walton County TDC communications director, and Visit Florida for the link. Anyone can dial 211 to report personal and business damage.

Granddaddy duty in Houston and a home on the Santa Rosa Ridge spared me from both 100 year storms, two in 10 months. Humans have never seen atmospheric carbon dioxide levels this high. A persistent drought grips California along with record setting heat and fire season looming. Houston was pleasant, a rare phenomenon for late April or July 4. Maybe 98 percent of climatologists are right about climate change.  

WashingtonDC is not Las Vegas. In DC what happens there doesn’t stay there.  According to the Fiscal Times, sequestration cuts sliced more than $1 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) budget. The National Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are funded by tax levies, too. Driving back from Houston, some Mississippi bigwig petitioned President Obama to forego National Guard sequestration cuts. Mississippi’s Congressional delegation supported the exact cuts. The National Weather Service, a NOAA division, has more than 200 unfilled staff and weather forecaster positions but not tied to sequestration cuts, wink, wink. Out west, the heat and drought strain the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service budget. The Forest Service drains funds from other programs to cover their fire-fighting bill. Ironically some monies come from programs designed to reduce fire hazards. 

No one likes paying taxes, but when the tide goes out you see who was swimming naked. People argue we have too much government, but when disaster strikes, who’s on speed dial? Before the New Deal, emergency response didn’t exist like it does today. In 1927 a flood struck Arkansas, covering 13 percent of the state. FEMA didn’t exist so municipalities struggled. Farmers lost their crops and since disaster programs were insufficient, their land. When the stock market crashed in 1929, the state was still reeling and in 1933 became the first and only state to default on their bonds. While bondholders were eventually paid, without federal assistance to state and local governments the outcome would not be as rosy. Aid to individuals increased revenue thus helping bond repayment; remember the multiplier effect from ECON 101. 

In 1927 then-President Coolidge made sure not a single dollar of direct federal aid went to flood victims. After all, the business of America is business. Nancy Hedricks, Arkansas State University, argues the 1927 flood changed people’s attitude toward public assistance. Prior to the botched response people scorned the “dole” but views evolved ushering in Roosevelt’s New Deal. Government certainly can’t solve every problem, but when Mother Nature throws curveballs, government can’t get here fast enough.

Revamp local infrastructure some say. Like the rest of the nation, we ignore basic needs. We want it fixed yesterday, but we want someone else to pay for it. No one enjoys paying taxes, but short-sighted sequestration cuts and a patchwork infrastructure is more expensive in the long run. 

Buz Livingston, CFP has a Blue Mountain Beach based fee-only, hourly financial planning and investment management firm. For more information, visit www.livingstonfinancial.net or come by our office at 2050 Scenic 30A, M1-Unit 230, Redfish Village.

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