Gary Johnson on FEMA: “I do see a role”

Buried at the bottom of this Hit and Run blog post is a viewpoint of Gary Johnson’s that might well conflict with purist libertarian’s views of state-first disaster response:

Johnson did not touch on Hurricane Sandy during his speech, but it did impact his day as he was late for his event in Boise that afternoon. In a scrum with reporters after the event Johnson said that he thinks the Federal Emergency Management Agency is an appropriate function for the federal government.

“I do see a role. The whole notion that we do have difficulties. I just want to do all of this in the context of not spending more money than we’re taking in,” he said.

“I think (disaster relief) may come under the basic notion of the government protecting us. There are these natural catastrophies that without the federal government, states aren’t as well equipped,” Johnson said, pointing to government assistance New Mexico received in response to the Cerro Grande Fire in 2000. Johnson did note, however, that the National Park Service started that same fire as a controlled burn.

“It was federally caused, it was federally lit,” he said.

It seems to be the case with many libertarians that they’ll at least let a federal agency try to manage a disaster response until it’s apparent they are a failure. But given the fact that such failures can lead to loss of life and property, it’s surprising to see that he’s willing to stick with FEMA after all their blunders in the past.

Stephen VanDyke

I've published HoT along with about 300+ friends since 2002. We're all Americans who are snarky and love our country. I'm a libertarian that registered Republican because I like to win elections. That's pretty much it.

  1. This is yet another indication of how Gary Johnson’s experience as governor of New Mexico, along with his experience as head of a construction company which he started by going door-to-door while a college student, qualifies him to be president. In fact, it makes him uniquely qualified. He’s principled but also a man of basic common sense – something not often seen in Washington D.C.

  2. FEMA is currently doing a rather good job with Sandy and Obama is being given credit for their good work. The ones who should be getting credit are those in charge of the actual organization and deployment of the disaster relief. Gary Johnson will have to lead the country as President. It’s not about the party -it is about the candidate. We need Johnson now. We voted early for Gary Johnson.

  3. People are very quick to blame FEMA and the government for not reacting fast enough, or not sufficiently. A large part of the reality for most libertarians I know, the responsibility is not solely on the government, but instead individuals should take responsibility to make sure they can weather a storm and have emergency plans should a disaster appropriate for their area, or perhaps even more than appropriate, should happen. Responsible people are proactive.

    1. You are correct, but the libertarian argument is fundamentally based on the argument that government’s security blanket (FEMA, TSA, et al) is an illusion.

      Responsible people hope for the best and prepare for the worst, and they DON’T RELY ON THE GOVERNMENT TO SAVE THEM.