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In our opinion: Politicizing a disaster like superstorm Sandy borders on obscene

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  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Oct. 30, 2012 5:02 p.m.

    During a CNN debate at the height of the GOP primary, Mitt Romney was asked, in the context of the Joplin disaster and FEMA's cash crunch, whether the agency should be shuttered so that states can individually take over responsibility for disaster response.

    "Absolutely," he said. "Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that's even better. Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep?"

    "Including disaster relief, though?" debate moderator John King asked Romney.

    "We cannot -- we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids," Romney replied. "It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we'll all be dead and gone before it's paid off. It makes no sense at all."

  • Fitness Freak Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 30, 2012 6:17 p.m.

    As the head cheerleader for "team Obama" the NYtimes is obligated to obfuscate, mislead, or out and out lie if need be in order to advance Obama's election efforts.

    The REALLY frustrating thing, I'm sure, for the NYT (and others)on the Obama cheerleading crew is that all of their intellectual gymnastics are HURTING the Obama re-election efforts rather than helping him.

    They're getting more and more desperate as the election approaches!

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 30, 2012 6:36 p.m.

    Why does Romney want to get rid of FEMA?

  • Eric Samuelsen Provo, UT
    Oct. 30, 2012 7:13 p.m.

    Thanks to Truthseeker for getting the quote. The Romney campaign can deny anything it wants to; he's on record suggesting he'd cut FEMA.
    As far as politicizing the event, I'd suggest that Romney collecting canned goods the Red Cross doesn't even want for a photo op would qualify. Congrats, though, to New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie, who has made it clear that his priorities have nothing to do with politics.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Oct. 30, 2012 8:12 p.m.

    A piece that criticizes those who are using the current events as a basis for their position.... then goes all political to support its own position. Did this piece have to get approval from the irony desk before published?

    Obviously many posting here haven't lived in an area that has experienced a major disaster. Not all disasters do rise to the level of requiring FEMA aid. But when they do.... no state can take the impact of an event like this. It is about balance. And I think all logical people understand that. It just where that balance point lives is what is in debate... not if there should be a federal role.

  • toosmartforyou Farmington, UT
    Oct. 30, 2012 8:21 p.m.

    The New York Times isn't going to change anyone's mind about who they think would be a better president of the country. Obama already has the liberal NYC vote so who cares what the editor's of the Times say? I certainly don't.

  • KJB1 Eugene, OR
    Oct. 30, 2012 10:05 p.m.

    The Deseret News isn't going to change anyone's mind about who they think would be a better president of the country. Romney already has the conservative Utah vote so who cares what the editor's of the DN say? I certainly don't.

  • Owen Heber City, UT
    Oct. 30, 2012 11:01 p.m.

    One candidate is politicizing the storm. Claiming to suspend campaigning wile continuing to do so. Pretending to collect food beneath screens running his campaign video. The other candidate is earning praise for his leadership from his competition's surrogate.

  • I M LDS 2 Provo, UT
    Oct. 30, 2012 11:12 p.m.

    Romney said it. I have seen it. He and his campaign try to deny it at the expense of whatever smell amount of credibility they have remaining.

    And speaking of obscene politicizing of tragedies, Mitt Romney set the bar for that when he politicized the murder of the Lybian Ambassador before the guns had even stopped smoking!

    Irony is one thing, but hypocrisy such as this is truly obscene!

  • Salsero Provo, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 12:07 a.m.

    Many movement conservatives don't like the idea of a storm providing an opportunity for positive accounts of a president doing his job. It goes against the image they've spent hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of hours trying create that the president is not one of "us" and should not get re-elected.

    They want us to believe that government is OK only when a Republican is in charge. Otherwise, government is bad. They realize that when people are in trouble, they turn to government because it oftentimes is the only place with the resources and organization to deal with major disasters.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 5:19 a.m.

    Re: "One candidate is politicizing the storm."

    You mean the one using the Democrat campaign slogan about leaning forward in every press release?

    You mean the one vainly attempting to show himself finally acting kinda presidential-ish, while dodging questions about his abject failure to really BE presidential, flying to Las Vegas to party and fundraise instead of handling the attack on the Benghazi consulate?

    You mean the one who unleashed his attack dogs at the NYT, to suggest that "big storms require big government?"

    You mean the one who was asked to stay out of NY, and who has plenty of storm damage to gawk at in his own backyard, but who insisted on a press event/photo tour of NJ anyway?

    Yeah -- one candidate's campaign is clearly committed to politicizing the storm. But it's not Mr. Romney.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Oct. 31, 2012 5:32 a.m.

    "who cares what the editor's of the Times say? I certainly don't."

    toosmart - maybe because the best way to get to an informed opinion is to listen and try to understand multiple positions, then form your own opinion, rather than just listening to those that agree with you. You don't have to agree with the other people, but at least you understand.

    Just sayin'

  • ECR Burke, VA
    Oct. 31, 2012 5:35 a.m.

    I'm sure you've heard of the pot calling the kettle black. In today's paper there is this editorial criticizing the New York Times for supposedly politicizing Hurricane Sandy. And then today's lead "news story" is all about poor Mitt Romney having to suspend his campaign so as not to look too critical of the president as he does his job looking out for all the citizens of the nation (not just 47%). Maybe the folks at the Times were just in a bad mood since their city is now crippled and will be for the near future and they reject those who say that government has no place in our lives. This hurricane came at inopportune time for a candidate who has been talking for 17 months about how the private sector can solve all of our problems. But the DN can only express dismay (although certainly in an editorial) about how that candiadte had to put the brakes on his momentum.

    Integrity. It's a work too often invoked by those who understand it least.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    Oct. 31, 2012 7:19 a.m.

    OK. So my comment didn't make sense. It should have said, "And then in today's DN lead story..." and "(although certainly not in an editorial)..."

    Sorry for the typos - it's Monday.

  • liberal larry salt lake City, utah
    Oct. 31, 2012 7:42 a.m.

    This storm is a perfect opportunity for President Obama to come to the aid of the Sandy ravaged East Coast, while Mitt is shown loading relief trucks, and doing his best to dodge questions about his comments stating he would love to defund FEMA.

    I think the storm highlights the philosophical differences between the two candidates regarding the role of government.

    Take your pick!

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 8:19 a.m.

    Which behavior is most presidential?

    Organizing relief efforts while communicating to the American people how they might best aid those effected by Sandy,

    or,

    A press event in Ohio featuring a candidate working the crowd and ducking reporters' questions about FEMA while moving boxes of canned food (which the Red Cross says is counter-productive and specifically ask you _not_ to send) onto trucks for an hour, while your campaign bio video plays overhead?

    Look, this campaign _is_ about the proper role of government. One of those roles, in fact one of government's critical roles, is disaster relief.

    Romney is on record as calling funding for FEMA "immoral," and the Romney/Ryan budget calls for severe cuts in federal disaster relief.

    You guys are spreading this attitude - it's time you own it and deal with the realities of what you're advocating.

    And regardless of your political persuasion... Go online, right now, and make a donation to the Red Cross Disaster Relief fund.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Oct. 31, 2012 8:36 a.m.

    There is no better illustration of the difference between parties than the role of FEMA.

    Clinton's FEMA director, James Lee Witt, was extremely competent and effective.

    Bush replaced Witt with incompetent Scott Brown, thereby proving the Republican mantra "govt doesn't work."

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 9:10 a.m.

    VST says - Disaster relief is best managed at the State level – not at the Federal level.

    Possibly true -- unless the magnitude of the storm completely overwhelms the state. Stop and think for a moment. How would Utah do if we were hit by a disaster as large and devastating as Sandy?

    How well will Utah do when the Big One hits and Salt Lake, Provo, Orem, Ogden, Layton, Draper, Sugarhouse, Millcreek, Bountiful, and all points in between have been flattened?

    VST's thinking points up the foolishness of thinking any state can go it alone when disaster strikes.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 9:12 a.m.

    Re: "Romney is on record as calling funding for FEMA "immoral" . . . ."

    Actually, he called wracking up higher debt immoral, but, for discussion purposes, let's go with your characterization.

    Since every state, every county, every city and village in the Nation has disaster-relief infrastructure in place, ANY federal infrastructure investment is needlessly and expensively redundant.

    States are closer, better placed, better motivated, and perfectly capable, particularly with in-place or planned regional and interstate support agreements, to handle disasters as they occur. Federal involvement seldom extends beyond political photo-ops and money.

    So, the ideal FEMA would be one guy with a 50-card rolodex, a big checkbook, and a camera to record the visits of "concerned" Washington politicos.

    Anything beyond that is fraud, waste, and abuse.

  • GZE SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 9:19 a.m.

    People stating that emergency relief efforts are best managed at the state or local level are forgetting their history. The Emergency Management System was established at the Federal level because of the inefficienies experienced after 9/11 when rescue crews from around the country responded and were unable to communicate effectively with each other. Federal management, which has established policies and procedures throughout the nation, was absolutely essential.

    The proper level of government to manage a disaster depends on the type and scope of the disaster. If your house catches on fire, it can probably be handled locally. If New York City is under 3 feet of water, it's probably going to take something more.

    The beauty of EMS is that if the firefighters require assistance to put out your house fire, everyone comes in knowing what to do without wasting time and your house has a better chance of being saved.

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 9:32 a.m.

    "States are closer, better placed, better motivated, and perfectly capable, particularly with in-place or planned regional and interstate support agreements, to handle disasters as they occur. Federal involvement seldom extends beyond political photo-ops and money."

    You'd better check with Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey on that point. His praise for FEMA and specifically for Obama's leadership during this crisis has been nothing short of effusive.

    The idea that the Hurricane Sandy disaster, which profoundly effects our nation as whole, should only be handled by a bunch of state agencies acting independently is just plain absurd.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 9:42 a.m.

    Romney said last year he'd get rid of FEMA.
    Today he didn't.

    Ironically --
    The Deseret News posts another letter to the editor today that Mitt Romney is not a lying Flip-Flopper.

    Who's politicizing?

  • Lowonoil Clearfield, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 9:56 a.m.

    "Politicizing a disaster like superstorm Sandy borders on obscene".

    I agree. Funny that the first picture I saw when I opened deseretnews dot com this morning was Mitt Romney stuffing cans of food into sacks presumably for victims of superstorm Sandy.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 10:22 a.m.

    At a time like this, which experience is better?

    The former Commmunity Organizer?
    or
    A Vulture Capitalist?

    BTW - What is Romney doing stuffing bags with canned goods for the cameras?
    He has Hundreds of MILLIONS $$$ in Cayman and Swiss bank accounts.

    He'd do more by simplying writing a check to the "little" people at FEMA.
    Just wants to keep his $$$ for himself, and take advantage for a photo-op.

  • josephscott Sandy, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 10:22 a.m.

    "Unfortunately, runaway federal spending on entitlements threatens to hamstring the nation's ability to respond to disasters as deficits grow and the ability to borrow is compromised."

    The last time the total federal debt went down instead of up (year over year) was 1957 (check out TreasuryDirect.gov for a list of the federal debt from 1791 to today). You have a long list of presidents and politicians to blame for the current federal fiscal situation.

  • josephscott Sandy, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 10:30 a.m.

    "We have seen that type of disaster response often here in Utah, when floods, high winds and other problems have prompted impressive responses from churches and local governments."

    Utah has done an impressive job of coming together when emergencies hit. But Utah has never seen anything near the scale of what has happened on the east coast. For starters "Early Wednesday, at least 6.2 million electric customers across the Eastern United States were still in the dark." (reported by CNN this morning). That is 2.2 times more people without power than live in all of Utah (2011 population estimate for Utah is 2.8M). Please don't even hint that Utah has managed to get by just fine by itself when dealing with a problem of the same magnitude, because Utah has never seen problems of that scale.

  • Gandalf Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 10:35 a.m.

    This is a sad editorial. The idea that the NY Times editorial was improperly politicizing this disaster is absurd. Are we supposed to simply watch silently as proof of the inadvisability of Gov. Romney's privatization schemes are played out before our very eyes? Is it verboten to point out the folly of eliminating FEMA? Because that is exactly what Gov. Romney, pre-etch-a-sketch, said we ought to do!

    I recognize that the Deseret News is in the tank for Mitt Romney. But it is clear that my co-religionists have been blinded by Republican ideology generally and by the opportunistic deceit of Mitt Romney generally. It is President Obama, not Mitt Romney, who represents the moral values and integrity of the restored gospel.

  • Moderate Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 11:44 a.m.

    OK. I understand the rules now.
    Politicizing a hurricane, bad.
    Politicizing a terrorist attack in Libya, good.

  • Salsero Provo, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 11:56 a.m.

    The news editor of the DesNews must be having a difficult time covering the massive storm currently devastating the East Coast. Although there is need to cover the storm and the president's involvement, there is also the interests of the DesNews to support Mit Romney. Story selection and how the stories are presented apparently are affected by this conflict of interest. Favorable coverage of the president's involvement works contrary to interests of the Romney campaign. It's a tough spot to be in.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 12:04 p.m.

    I am still trying to figure out what is so wrong with getting rid of FEMA, and pushing that responsibility to the states?

    Think about it. If a disaster was to occur in Utah, who knows better what resources are available and how to get people organized, Utah or the Federal Government?

    All along the East Coast, who knows better what areas are more prone to damage, the state governments, or the feds?

    Romney's statements do not indicate a flip flop as so many liberals claim. He recognizes that the states currently do not have state agencies set up to do what FEMA does. You can't just cut off the system without weaning the states from it. No mental gymnastics needed, just logic and common sense. The mental gymnastics can be saved for filling out government forms for help.

  • Ying Fah Provo, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 12:36 p.m.

    RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT

    As always, it depends upon the extent of damage. Perhaps you might look at Chris Christie of New Jersey and ask him your question. I sure he would provide you with a lucid, well-reasoned answer.

    When the tsunami hit Japan, local authorities realized that the extent of damage was far beyond their emergency response efforts. Similarly, a devastating event in Utah would quickly overwhelm the resources of both local and state agencies. The key words here are "extent of damage" and "devastating event".

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 12:59 p.m.

    Wait a minute...

    Didn't UTAH just get FEMA assistance for the "wind storm" last December?
    Didn't UTAH just declare and recieve FEMA for assistance for "the Laub dam" break just last month in St. George?

    Oh,
    but now this about a Democratic President, and New England which is primarily a Democratic stronghold -- so NOW it's bad, and NOW it's politicisizing.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 12:59 p.m.

    Re: "The idea that the Hurricane Sandy disaster . . . should only be handled by a bunch of state agencies acting independently is just plain absurd."

    Yeah -- that's the leftist party line, alright.

    But, it's not reality.

    The largest American disasters ever, were "only" handled, and handled quite well, by local public and private entities -- often with financial help from Washington, of course -- but with no expectation that federal aid would devolve into federal control and responsibility.

    But, today, local responsibility has been ceded or abandoned to bureaucrats in a bloated, distant federal agency. As a result, a Category 1 hurricane that won't even make the top 50 American disasters, inexplicably becomes cause for national debate over whether "big storms require big government."

    That's the very definition of politicizing disasters.

    The idea of local control and local action is not only NOT absurd, it's the very basis of active, efficient, effectual aid.

    The American model of disaster response must be the Teton Dam collapse, NOT the FEMA-induced political collapse of New Orleans.

  • Noodlekaboodle Millcreek, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 1:17 p.m.

    So what I'm hearing from these comments all points to the ineptitude of FEMA. But all of the examples are during the Bush administration. Does that mean FEMA isn't good, or does it mean GWB hired the wrong person to head FEMA and did a poor job managing the disaster? Just because republicans do a terrible job running the government doesn't make the government bad. It makes the republicans bad at their job.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 1:30 p.m.

    To "Ying Fah" yes look at that disaster. Who understood the areas best that were hit with the tsunami? Do the politicians in Tokyo understand the people in the effected areas best, or do the mayors and provincial officials understand what is needed? They may ask the central government for specific help, but overall the locals understand their situation better than anybody else.

    To "LDS Liberal" you realize that the "help" that Utah got was primarily loan guarantees and some funding. It was still the locals that directed the efforts. Who organized the massive cleanup efforts, was it FEMA or local leaders?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Oct. 31, 2012 3:06 p.m.

    VST's thinking points up the foolishness of thinking any state can go it alone when disaster strikes.

    I think what is missed here is the impacted area here is a stretch that if it were laid over Utah would go from Pheonix to Yellowstone part, that the number of people where they eye hit that have been directly impacted is two times the total polation of Utah, and the total number of people in the storms hit area is 20 times the population of Utah. Or lets put it this way, the total GDP of Utah is 10 Billion LESS than the anticipated fiscal impact of this story.

    Or how about this. Utah's National Guerd budget for 2013 is $36 million, of which $30 million comes from the feds. So Utah contrabution is only a little more than $5 million. Utah total state budget is $2 billion. Sandy's cleanup cost is estimated at $50 Billion. How in the world would a state manage something like this, less along the coordination of efforts across multiple state lines. It makes no sense what so ever..... but hey, lets hand it to corporations to profit over evnets like this.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Oct. 31, 2012 5:19 p.m.

    The Romney campaign hastily transformed a scheduled victory rally in Dayton, Ohio into a non-political “storm relief event” on Tuesday. The campaign encouraged supporters to bring hurricane relief supplies and “deliver the bags of canned goods, packages of diapers, and cases of water bottles to the candidate, who would be perched behind a table along with a slew of volunteers and his Ohio right-hand man, Senator Rob Portman.”

    Romney campaign aides reportedly spent $5,000 at a local Wal-Mart on supplies that could be put on display. When supporters arrived at the rally-turned-relief event, they were treated to the 10-minute video about Romney’s life, which was first unveiled at the RNC. The event ended with supporters lined up to hand over supplies and meet Romney. The donation process was also staged:

    Empty-handed supporters pled for entrance, with one woman asking, “What if we dropped off our donations up front?”

    The volunteer gestured toward a pile of groceries conveniently stacked near the candidate. “Just grab something,” he said.

  • Owen Heber City, UT
    Oct. 31, 2012 6:49 p.m.

    "The idea of local control and local action is not only NOT absurd, it's the very basis of active, efficient, effectual aid." Which exactly the mission of FEMA: to support the local Governor who remains in charge. Sheesh. Do some research.

  • freedomingood provo, Utah
    Nov. 1, 2012 4:08 a.m.

    Disaster relief is allready handled at the state level. The generally start that "handling" with a call for help.

    Then FEMA comes in and helps the govenor of the state that is "handling" the problem, usually overwhelmed and facing huge tax shortfalls due to the lax of business tax revenues.

    Leaving states on thier own is a terrible idea. If anything they should pay a FEMA tax for living in a high risk area but it's conservatives that stop that kind of responsibility.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    Nov. 1, 2012 8:09 a.m.

    Re: "Sheesh. Do some research."

    I did. Therein lies the problem.

    FEMA's budget is $13.5B plus. It has more than 10K employees.

    That's a $13.5B and 10K-person drain on money and resources available to respond to disasters, and merely duplicates efforts and resources available at state, county, and municipality emergency action centers.

    It could be more aptly named the Department of Redundancy Department.

  • glendenbg Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 1, 2012 4:22 p.m.

    It's not politicizing things to see how the President handled a crisis. He has worked across the board with leaders of every political stripe to plan for and respond to Sandy. It's also not politicizing it to point out that candidate Romney has called for privatizing FEMA.

    With Katrina 1800+ people died because the previous administration didn't place a premium on having a professional and competent FEMA. With Sandy, it hit the most densely populated part of the US evacuations were timely and relatively efficient and thus far the death toll is 70 people. That's what happens when resources are mobilized in a timely fashion. That's what happens when the administration values professionalism in disaster management.

    It's a good time to have the conversation. Could state governments have handled Sandy on their own? No. Federal leveal coordination has been a key component of thus far successfully handling a sitaution that was the worst case scenario in almost every way. The Editorial board is trying to declar the topic off limits when it is timely and cogent.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Nov. 2, 2012 8:00 a.m.

    To "glendenbg" why couldn't state government have handled Sandy on their own? Do evacuation orders only come from the Federal government?

    So far, the state and local officials are doing the majority of the work in New York, while FEMA sits around and fills out the paperwork to start getting things going.

  • Mister J Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 2, 2012 9:17 a.m.

    per LDS Liberal on 10/31 at 9:42a

    If Willard got rid of FEMA what would happen to G Beck's concentration camps?

  • Hank Pym SLC, UT
    Nov. 2, 2012 9:22 a.m.

    to Redshirt1701

    "So far, the state and local officials are doing the majority of the work in New York, while FEMA sits around and fills out the paperwork to start getting things going."

    Ideally, that is how it s/b... the Federal Gov't should act as an overseer/mediator in ***Interstate issues***.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Nov. 2, 2012 9:41 a.m.

    To "Hank Pym" but FEMA isn't doing anything, that is the point. If FEMA does nothing, why do we need to keep funding it?

    This isn't an interstate issue, this is a local issue. NY City is effected, but upstate New York isn't.

    Again, how many people are being fed by FEMA filling out paper work before they can do anything?

    The answer is none. People are being helped by private groups that are sending food in to churches and organizations that can distribute it to those in need.

    Meanwhile the liberals in New York are running the New York marathon, taking the first responders away from those in need, and are using generators to power the clocks, instead of powering the gas stations. Doesn't that sound a lot like Rome, and providing the circus to entertain the people while they starve?

  • Hank Pym SLC, UT
    Nov. 2, 2012 12:57 p.m.

    @ Redshirt1701

    "This isn't an interstate issue, this is a local issue. NY City is effected, but upstate New York isn't."

    NJ was affected. Therefore, its an interstate issue.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Nov. 2, 2012 2:16 p.m.

    To "Hank Pym" you are confusing multi-state with interstate. The problems that New York has are not causing problems for New Jersey.

    There are multiple states with problems. Having trees down in Staton Island does not correlate to any problems in New Jersey.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    Nov. 3, 2012 6:26 a.m.

    "That's a $13.5B and 10K-person drain on money and resources available to respond to disasters, and merely duplicates efforts and resources available at state, county, and municipality emergency action centers."

    really? Download the Utah state budget. It is available on line in an excel spreadsheet. Find the budget lines that that match up to what FEMA does..... give it a try. And the things you will find, like the National guard, Utah only funds 1/7th the cost of that. The rest is federal funds.

    Agreed that Utah even if devastated is much smaller then New Jersey. Lets say the clean up bill were instead to 50 Billion, it were 8 billion. Find me an 8 billion dollar pot of money in the Utah budget that can cover this? The entire Utah budget is just 2 billion. Were talking cost multiples of the annual budgets of these states and cities.

    The math just doesn't work. In national disasters, the nation needs to help because no state could do it alone.