Hurricane Harvey Showcases Government at Its Best, Worst

Conservative lawmakers contend that government should be as inconsequential in the lives of Americans as possible.The brutality of Hurricane Harvey, however, shows us that government does and should have a significant role in helping us all live comfortably and safely.We need a strong, efficient, effective and fully-funded government on all levels, and our elected leaders should make decisions about resources and the protection of citizens based on sound public policy, and not petty politics or favors to special interest groups.Good government matters, and it sometimes costs money.For the most part, Texas leaders have been up to Harvey's challenge, casting a steely resolve and dispatching the considerable resources on Texas' government in ways that inspires confidence. The federal government has been on point as well, promising the resources needed for the tough, long road ahead.President Donald Trump struck the upbeat tone during his Tuesday visit to Corpus Christi."It happened in Texas and Texas can handle anything," Trump said before grabbing and slightly waving a Texas flag.Gov. Greg Abbott has excelled as well, shaking off the folly of this summer's special legislative session to help steer Texas out of the storm.Unfortunately, Harvey has showcased government missteps, particularly in the legislative and planning arena. The storm reveals that decisions by policy makers have consequences that aren't always immediately apparent.In the Houston area, some analysts say officials failed to get a grip on rapid development that resulted in houses and businesses erected in flood-prone prairies that shouldn't have been disturbed. And development has wiped out a large percentage of the wetlands in Harris County that help soaked up flood waters and protect neighborhoods.More wetlands wouldn't have stopped all of the massive flooding from this historic hurricane, but it would have helped.Rice University scientist Mark Jones says "there were homes built were they shouldn't have been built."Houston-area officials have also been criticized for not evacuating the most vulnerable neighborhoods before Harvey took hold, as evident by Abbott's early comments that an evacuation should have occurred.But Abbott, appropriately, has backed away from retrospective comments, and others have defended the decision not to evacuate, particularly since such an effort was disastrous when Hurricane Rita followed Hurricane Katrina through the Gulf Coast.  Continue reading...

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