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The Case Against FEMA

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency has received generally high marks for its response to Hurricane Irene and other recent natural disasters, but that doesn't mean its it's immune from criticism. Indeed, Ron Paul isn't the only one calling for the agency to be abolished.

At The Atlantic, Emily C. Skarbek a research fellow and director of MyGovCost.org and assistant professor of economics at San Jose State University says the arguments that FEMA plays a crucial role in disaster response and rebuilding communities "are largely based on the misguided notions that the federal government can redirect necessary resources efficiently and that private enterprise is incapable of getting the job done."

FEMA's problem, Skarbek argues, goes beyond bureaucracy:

FEMA consistently responds to political influence rather than the victims' needs. Economists Thomas Garrett and Russell Sobel studied FEMA's policies and found that disaster expenditures are strongly determined by whether the states affected are important to the president's reelection and whether the local congressional representatives are members of FEMA oversight committees. In their study, Garrett and Sobel found that nearly half of all expenditures are determined by political considerations rather than identifying and executing an appropriate need-based response.

(Photo courtesy FEMA)