Unwilling to accept the decision by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) that the Yarnell fire was not so large that the State of Arizona cannot handle the aftermath itself, Governor Jan Brewer is appealing the decision saying, “Financially, it is not, I don’t believe, Arizona’s responsibility.”
She is unlikely to win.
For as tragic as the Yarnell fire was, leading to the deaths of 19 wildfire fighters, the tragedy pales by comparison to other national disasters. There were 129 structures destroyed by the Yarnell fire and another 23 damaged. Only 9 were not insured. That compares to 100,000 homes destroyed in the Great Flood of 1993, 132,000 homes damaged or lost in Hurricane Sandy and 275,000 homes destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. Further, unlike these other natural disasters, there should be few disputed insurance claims for those Yarnell homeowners who had household insurance. The state should easily be able to afford to help the victims. And, if there are insufficient funds in the state’s coffers to do so, a tiny tax increase would provide more than enough money to help the victims.
In fact, though I may seem cold-hearted, I find Arizona’s request and ensuing appeal somewhat amusing. This is, after all, one of the states that have been most antagonistic toward the federal government. It is also a “taker” state that receives more from the federal government than it pays in taxes.
It seems the anti-government Teapublicans of Arizona are horrified by the national deficit and debt… until they see an opportunity to capitalize. Then they are among the first to go begging with hat in hand for more federal handouts.
The federal government spends tens of billions on military bases, border patrol facilities and the “danged” border fence in Arizona. It manages and maintains national parks that are international tourist attractions bringing billions into the state. It also supplies assistance to the state’s many impoverished citizens.
Meanwhile, the state does little to help its own cause. It repulsed other states and its Mexican neighbors by passing the ill-conceived SB 1070 anti-immigration bill. It closed highway rest stops and state parks despite the fact that it relies on tourism. It starved schools of the funds needed to turn out the kind of educated workforce that might attract companies with high-paying jobs. And It seems the legislature’s only plan to bring jobs into Arizona is to continue its race to the bottom for corporate tax rates. As a result, the state’s largest employer is Walmart!
Come on, Arizona. It’s time we begin to build a state we can be proud of. And it’s time we learn to take care of our own.