Originally published in The Huffington Post on 6/20/13
The horrible tragedy in Moore, Oklahoma reminds one that libertarians are people who like gambles in which heads, they rake it in; tails, you pay. They object to government regulations, even those of local municipalities, that would require residents in tornado-prone areas to include a life-saving "safe room" in their homes -- objecting even to requirements that such safe rooms be included in schools. Yet they then have the temerity to complain bitterly when federal aid for cleaning up and rebuilding their homes is delayed.
"This is a red state," notes state Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, in explaining the state legislature's refusal to pass his several bills requiring the construction of safe rooms, adding, "People don't like anything that is mandated. They don't like it when the government says they have to do something." Similarly, the Oklahoma State Home Builders Association, spokesperson Mike Gilles, who opposed a law requiring that homes have a safe room, explains: "Most homebuilders would be against that because we think the market ought to drive what people are putting in the houses, not the government." However, these libertarian sentiments did not prevent officials in the Oklahoma City suburb from complaining that $2 million in federal grants to pay for "safe rooms" in 800 homes had been delayed by a shortage of funding and FEMA requirements. And now the same two Oklahoma senators who voted against federal aid for disaster relief in the wake of Hurricane Sandy are now demanding federal assistance to help with the damage inflicted by the tornado. So far, some 4,200 people from the region have applied for federal assistance.
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