Friday, March 24, 2006

FEMA Trailer Trash Redux

E.J. Dionne has an oped over at the WaPo today which administers a good old woodshedding to Bush for his double-talk on the failings of Big Government - when it's Bush himself in charge of that Big Gub'ment!
Is President Bush the leader of our government, or is he just a right-wing talk-show host?

The question comes to mind after Bush's news conference this week in which he sounded like someone who has no control over the government he is in charge of. His words were those of a pundit inveighing against the evils of bureaucrats.

"Obviously," said the critic in chief, "there are some times when government bureaucracies haven't responded the way we wanted them to, and like citizens, you know, I don't like that at all." Yes, and if you can't do something about it, who can?

Bush went on: "I mean, I think, for example, of the trailers sitting down in Arkansas. Like many citizens, they're wondering why they're down there, you know. How come we've got 11,000?"

Bush was talking about 10,777 mobile homes ordered up to provide housing for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. As Rep. Mike Ross put it in an interview, most of these "brand-new, fully furnished homes are sitting in a hay meadow in Hope, Arkansas," and are "a symbol of what's wrong with this administration and what's wrong with FEMA."
"Hang on a minute," thought I. "Thousands of trailers in a field?"

So I had a look at the Newshog archive for a post called "FEMA Trailer Trash" wherein I wrote:
The main group that FEMA turned to was the Manufactured Housing Institute who referred them on to individual retaillers. Clayton Homes, the largest retailler, received an initial order for 1,800 homes alone - an order it has said it intends to make a profit from. Yet the nation's largest trailer manufacturer, Thor Industries, says it has been unable to talk to anyone at FEMA about selling them trailers direct at manufacturer's prices. Where FEMA is talking to manufacturers at all it is talking to those who sold units to the government following last year's Florida hurricanes.

It would perhaps be cynical to suggest that using trailers instead of real homes, and then buying the trailers retail, is tantamount to a giveaway to an industry where 80% of political contributions end up in the pockets of Republicans and which has been declining in the last few years. And yet here I am, suggesting it.
Now, according to Ross, the Democrat whose district all those trailers are parked in, over 5,000 of those trailers will never be used to house Katrina refugees and will be left sitting in his local hay meadow because FEMA has said they will be stored for future disasters.

That, by a quick guesstimate, is over $82.5 million bucks sitting unused in a field. Anyone want to make an estimate of the profit to suppliers on that?

That's not incompetence, it's far closer to corruption.

No comments: