Thursday, September 15, 2011

Libertarians protest FEMA rules for wildfire victims

Feds to 'keep their grubby paws off' donations

Austin – In a cramped basement office next door to the Brave New Bookstore on Austin's Drag - M.L.King at Guadalupe - Heather Fazio runs the affairs of the local chapter of the Libertarian Party of Texas.

When the wildfires broke out in nearby Bastrop, burning 1,500 homes and displacing families who had nowhere to go, no clothing, cash, household items or shelter from the 100-plus degree heat, she got busy.

Within days, she and her colleagues at Texans for Accountable Government had put together a coalition of people who brought “gently used” clothing, infant items, cash and hope to the Bastrop Christian Miniserial Alliance office for distribution to the needy wildfire victims.

Their only requirement: FEMA and the Red Cross could have nothing to do with their largesse. These agencies spend more on the bureaucratic requirements of their mission than on the charitable work at hand.

So far, so good.

But then the federal bureaucracy showed its ugly face. FEMA officials contacted Ms. Linda Sparks at Bastrop and persuaded her to require applicants to include a disaster claim number generated by that agency.

Why? It was done in the interest of reducing fraud – even looting, the officials said.

When word filtered back to Heather Fazio and her colleagues at the Libertarian Party, they put it on a number of Facebook sites, started making phone calls of protest to the ministerial alliance hot line, and the rest is a classic social media tail wags dog story.

When the dust cleared, Ms. Fazio and Ms. Sparks learned they have something in common.

They neither one like the kind of federal meddling displayed in disasters nationwide, including Hurricane Katrina, the BP spill, Ike or Tropical Storm Lee.

The result is simple enough. All they require now is some form of ID that shows an address. If the Bastrop County emergency office shows the address on a list of ruined dwellings, the applicant is welcome to the kind of relief the community has to offer.

Websites such as offer subscription service as a committee of safety for those who protest such federal and state intrusions on personal liberty as guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.

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