November 3, 2012

"People keep talking about the role of government in helping people.... but a lot of the credit for helping people recover from the storm should go to businesses."

"It's all too easy to implicitly exclude businesses from our mental category of those who help people."
(Why? Because they're driven by profits? Is that worse than being driven by votes?)
It might be better, because businesses have to offer something that moves you to part with your money. With a scheme of taxing and spending, government detaches the process of handing over our money from our thoughts about whether we think the benefits are worth it.

And by the way, businesses not only help people, they are people.

Back to the first link (which goes to my son John's blog):
I can think of many ways that businesses helped me get through the past 5 days, when the power was out in my apartment and my workplace....


Peter V. Bella said...

What has the government ever done to help people after disasters? Too little too late usually.

cubanbob said...

All businessmen and woman want is some of your money. The Big Government Left wants your soul.

16tn and what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt.

edutcher said...

I notice FEMA isn't covering itself with glory on Staten Island.

And corporations are people.

Methadras said...

It's interesting to see the commiecrats trip over their own dicks to ease or temporarily halt regulations to try and attempt to get goods and services to those that need it. Thus proving how these regs and rules serve no one but government largess. They've shot themselves in the head.

Nathan Alexander said...

I truly hope this is the beginning of a groundswell that relegates socialism, progressivism, and anti-business/anti-capitalism to the ash-heap of history.

Hostility as a first resort to deal with an entity willing to engage is stupid.

Just like engagement with an entity only willing to be hostile is also stupid.

Liberals/progressives/socialists have significant problems in recognizing true threats/enemies....or, if they are accurate in recognizing their enemies, they are placing themselves as enemies of freedom, peace, and prosperity.

Commerce/business/corporations undergird peace, stability, freedom and prosperity. When you take a balanced view/approach to regulating industry/commerce, you get a balanced society.

Michael K said...

Wal Mart did more for New Orleans than FEMA in the early days. I have read some accounts of private citizens who tried to help in NO. After getting shot at, they went to Mississippi and went to work.

The Drill SGT said...

Businesses depend on happy customers and market share. They strive to impress you with their product and service. profits come from that.

how many government entities want you to love them or want to distinguish their service level from the competition?

Is it surprising that competition creates more customer satisfaction than monopoly?

AaronS said...

I can't believe that this discussion needs to take place. But apparently people walking around with good coffee in BPA-free travel mugs ordering shoes from Zappo's with a credit card while they share pictures of their kids with grand parents via email just don't get how a functioning society and business interests are sailing in the same boat

Wince said...

Genius at work...

"Is it really true that political self-interest is nobler somehow than economic self-interest?

I think you are taking a lot of things for granted. Just tell me where in the world you're going to find these angels who are going to organize society for us?

I don't even trust you to do that."

I'm Full of Soup said...

Next you will be claiming corporations are people. Heh.

Unknown said...

Truly, government is the cancer of human society.

pm317 said...

With a scheme of taxing and spending, government detaches the process of handing over our money from our thoughts about whether we think the benefits are worth it.

This. What a fine post to remind us how it all works. And a fine son you have. I am quite emotional now listening to Romney's speech in OH rally. I firmly believe Obama is not a good man, may be he is in his private life to his children but he is not in his public life. Just a recent example -- he is going around saying vote, that is the best revenge. Who says things like that? Many of us saw the real Obama in 2008 and we were not impressed then and we are certainly not impressed now.

Contrast Romeny's speech in OH last night. Romney is the best antidote to Obama.

Baron Zemo said...

You just don't get.

Obama is bound and determined to recreate everything that Jimmy Carter ever did.

First are embassy is overrun by terrorists.

Now gas lines.

This weekend....a killer rabbit.

Steve said...

75% of the fire departments in New Jersey are volunteer departments.

Wince said...

Eustace Chilke said...
Truly, government is the cancer of human society.

I'd say more like bacteria in your intestinal tract.

A limited amount of the right kind is necessary for life, but too much of the wrong kind can make you throw-up or even kill the host.

pm317 said...

And what is more of a cancer in a democracy than a corrupt press and media. They are prostituting themselves to Obama and they HAVE to be defeated to bring back what is essential for a healthy democracy, a free and objective media. Who would you rather listen to, college drop outs like Brian Williams and Chuck Todd slobbering on an incompetent Obama or that intrepid NV reporter or even that Telemundo?

DEFEAT the national Media, VOTE Romney.

Anonymous said...

Romney is a business person.

He got his business and law degrees at the SAME TIME from Harvard.

You see, it is a rare program, where no slackers like Obama can get in, where you study, work, study, work, and so on.

Romney aced his work. He was highly sought. He even raised his family while he was in this dual program.

Name one POTUS who could have survived: DUAL programs at Harvard, raising family, etc.


ricpic said...

Government freedom from the constraints of the "venal marketplace" is freedom to do what? anything and everything to its subjects. The capitalist may be a good person a bad person or a mixture of the two. Matters not for the market will reward him if he brings a product or service that is judged satisfactory and punish him if it is unsatisfactory. Capitalism FORCES morality. The exact opposite of what the Left brays day and night.

Tank said...

Seems appropriate to re-post my comment from a prior thread:

I read this last night sitting in Barnes and Noble and downloading Ibooks onto my Ipad [ironically enough]. Very nice there, the people, both customers and staff.

I had some trouble connecting to their wifi [which ended up being just slow, and we weren't giving it time to reach the "I agree to the terms..." screen before moving on].

First the staff helped me for ten minutes. Then three strangers sat with me for 45 minutes, called an Istore for me, etc. We finally worked it out.

My thanks to the people at Barnes and Noble, customers included.

Meanwhile, here in NJ, we're still without power, and it might be another week before we [my block] gets it back. Looks about 50% restored to me in my general area.

My wife works in a different B & N and they've been deluged with people coming in to recharge and use their wifi. Not selling much, but building up some PR I guess.

Synova said...

Shocking article in Slate.

(Explains how allowing "gouging" would benefit people during and after a natural disaster.)

Lem Former Twitter Aficionado said...


Rh music.

Dante said...

Other perspectives flow from that one all important thought.

Consider government providing a service, let's say in Sacramento CA, parole services. An individual screws up, violating some guys rights, and is sued. What happens? The electorate pays, which is to say either everyone pays more or government services are compromised. If a corporation is sued, it is penalized compared to its competitors.

Here is another thought. There is no imperative for government (or any necessary monopoly) to optimize goods vs. cost. In business, competition optimize the ratio.

Here is another thought. Bad experiments in business have a finite lifetime. Businesses that do not provide enough perceived value go bankrupt.

If Crack were here, he might point out there is manipulation, such as dietary supplements and such. But at least it's voluntary. Hard core capitalists will say the system is working there too, as people who do not manage their money well are parted with it.

Bruce Hayden said...

What has the government ever done to help people after disasters? Too little too late usually.

I think that Sandy is showing us a couple of things. One is the failure of government. You have the mayor of NYC using scarce generators for a marathon that could better be used to save lives, or, maybe even running pumping stations to fill gas trucks, etc.

You also have states denying access to firefighters from other states because they aren't union members and states apparently denying access to gas from other states because it doesn't comply with their fuel mandates.

Plus, as someone pointed out elsewhere, many, if not most, of those downed power lines could have been buried if the Obama Stimulus money had been spent on that, instead of Cash for Clunkers and investing in green energy investment giveaways to big donors and political cronies.

It is also a major indictment of the liberal/progressive ideal of urban living. We are seeing one big reason why a lot of this country does not buy into that dream. When disasters hit, life gets a lot worse for a lot more people a lot more quickly in heavy density urban areas like NYC than throughout much of the rest of the country. And, with big cities come big governments, which, almost by necessity, are going to fail miserably when faced with this sort of situation.

Someone has proposed a mega-levee or the like for NYC harbor, to protect it from just this sort of once or twice a century storm. The thing that isn't mentioned though is who would pay for it. Obviously, the assumption is that the rest of us would do so. NYC couldn't afford it, with all it pays for its unionized workforce, esp. since much of any increase in revenues invariably goes into their pockets.

I do find it interesting that what everyone seemed to want from Obama was for him to bring the checkbook. The hurricane only hit a limited number of counties in a small number of states. Yet, much of the NE is demanding to be declared part of the disaster area. And, that is to get money for the feds, which means the rest of us and the Chines. But, I am pretty sure that this is going to bust the budge of any disaster money is the budget. So, where is Obama going to get all those billions and billions of dollars?

Michael K said...

It is shocking that Yglesias is better informed about economics than Christie and Cuomo. Even these guys from the 'hood know more economics than Obama. Why didn't one of them run for president?

"ya need it, you pay it. What are ya gonna do ?"

Brief description of market economics.

Carter is really back with Benghazi and gas lines. I wonder how many will notice ?

Synova said...

Reason TVis expected to explain how raising prices ensures supply for those who need it.

bagoh20 said...

Sometimes it's like watching a baby take their first steps. This stuff would be obvious to everyone from their everyday lives if a certain educated chattering class didn't spend so much effort trying to tell them otherwise in an attempt to demonstrate their superiority.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

The case for price gouging is well demonstrated by the long lines at gas stations. The people who really need the gas the most and would be willing pay a lot more have to wait in line behind a throng of people who just want to fill up to feel secure, but have no use for it, and will just park their full tanks at home. Price gouging would thin out the lines to those who would self-select as the ones who need the gas most.

Once the high need users are satisfied, the price would have to come down to sell more gas, and it would. Everyone gets gas in the order they self-select based on their own needs.

Synova said...

I think that Bloomberg (that can't be right... berg? Bloom-something) was forced to cancel the Marathon.

Big Mike said...

I see that Methadras also recognizes that Obama's exhortation to "cut the red tape" has been pretty much ignored by his very own bureaucracy. They do what they feel like doing.

Synova said...

The Slate article clearly explains how people react to disasters and why it's better if business can adjust their prices. Raising prices serves people better than if a business isn't allowed to raise their prices.

Something like the Reason TV video about gas lines is expected. It's Reason after all.

This is also a good example of emotionalism screwing us. It FEELS like immoral greed if a business raises prices in response to the greater demand before and after a storm. But going with feelings means that there is no natural way to manage supply when it's supply, not the cost of things, that is most critical when things turn critical.

Synova said...

The people standing in gas lines or those who stocked up at the last minute before the storm hit aren't buying what they NEED either. They're buying everything they can, as much as they can get, just in case they can't get more later. Not allowing stores to raise the price of flashlights and batteries or even bottled water encourages hoarding.

The people in the gas lines weren't filling a gas can so they had some gas, they were filling every gas can they could get their hands on... and then storing it or else selling the gas for inflated prices to those who needed the gas badly enough to pay extra and hadn't gotten in line in time.

Synova said...

I suppose the topic of this post was how businesses help during natural disasters. Of course they do. They have the infrastructure and resources to move and distribute goods. Even the big government disaster scenarios expect to do their distribution through companies with nation-wide transportation and warehouse networks such as Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has the resources and know how. The government would be starting from scratch.

Local businesses will frequently shut down for a day so all of their employees can go fill sand bags or whatever... it's the right thing to do and because it's the right thing to do it's also good PR.

I'm only saying that if business was allowed to respond naturally to the extreme shift of supply and demand related to disasters like Sandy that they'd do even more to help because they'd manage *supply* and have huge incentives to move heaven and earth... and get *paid* to move heaven and earth... to increase supply where it's most needed.

bagoh20 said...

Synova, I hope you don't think I'm disagreeing with you. We're making the same point, and it seems pretty simple to understand, but virtually nobody outside of libertarians even considers it, and good luck trying sell it as a politician.

What a lot of us fear is how it applies to universal health care. If everyone gets doctor visits for "free" those most needing them will face a much longer line for no good reason while a lot of people go to the doctor just because they can, and it's more intimate than watching doctor OZ on the tube.

Michael K said...

'm only saying that if business was allowed to respond naturally to the extreme shift of supply and demand related to disasters like Sandy that they'd do even more to help because they'd manage *supply* and have huge incentives to move heaven and earth... and get *paid* to move heaven and earth... to increase supply where it's most needed.

We are dealing with a political class that lacks common sense. It is sucked out of them in grad school. Fortunately, Romney's MBA cancelled out his law degree, which he has never used anyway.

Obama has never done anything that would lead us to expect he knew Bastiat's paradox, for example. He is the one that thinks ATMs cost jobs.

virgil xenophon said...

Snyova echoes the point I made in a previous thread on this subject. Every "after action" analysis of Katrina spotlighted firms like Walmart, Home Depot, Loews, etc. not only for the logistical reasons Synova cited but also for the flexibility local mgrs were given compared to regulatory-bound organizations like FEMA. The Classic case being the WM store Mgr in Miss who personally took a fork-lift to gouge open a locked storage container full of medicines, bandages, etc., for distribution free of charge to those in need. And as Synova notes, it's also great PR But as I also noted in a subsequent post on that thread, there is no little savage irony in the fact that big-city Democrat Mayors inveigh against the Walmarts of this world like Dracula dreads the Cross in efforts to keep them out of their cities--the very business organizations most in a position to provide immediate help in emergencies.

Also coming in for high praise in the various post-storm analyses was the Coast Guard--mainly because it is usually regionally/locally based with personnel serving long assignment tours such that they become intimately familiar, often on a first name basis, with all the local key first-responders--fire, police, Wild-Life and Fisheries (who have boats) State and local key disaster personnel, etc. and not only are used to working with them, they have them on speed-dial or know their locations when comm is out, thereby making vital coordination that much more efficient. That was the experience during Katrina as the studies demonstrate and that will be what post Sandy studies will show as well..

Dante said...

Sometimes it's like watching a baby take their first steps.

Heh. I almost wrote "Baby steps are good," in response to Ann's observation, but decided that was snarky, and after her powerful powerful coming out for Romney, I'm going to try to be good and avoid snark.

In any event, Ayn Rand mentioned she believes Monopolies are OK, as manufacturers will reduce costs to hit the optimal profit. I think without competition, corporations become the same as governments, and manipulate marketplaces.

To prove this to yourself, consider how much someone could make from lugnuts if they had the world-wide monopoly for lugnuts. Or how much a glass of water is if there is little water, etc.

virgil xenophon said...

What Obama and the Feds COULD do (but haven't) is move Navy/Army/Marine helos and amphibious capability (what there is left of it in a down-sized, gutted Navy) avail on the Eastern Seaboard to help in a manner we did in Indonesia after the Tsunami. And what of National Guard units from other states. During Katrina units of NY's 42 Inf Div, California NG, Kansas NG and others as well as rescue/medical teams from many other states were flown in. Why not in this case?

Of course it goes without saying that Church and other volunteer organizations from throughout the nation--as in Katrina--will turn out to play a big role--you know, the religious "bitter clingers" that Obama sneers at and so casually disparages--and all at no cost to the general taxpayer..

Ralph L said...

JAC discovers the Invisible Hand.
Film at 11.

Jim Howard said...

Until recently I owned a weekend waterfront cottage in Rockport Texas.

Every time a hurricane got within five days of this house I left Austin, drove to Rockport, and boarded up the house. The house was on 8' piers, so it could take some flooding.

I never, ever, considered staying in that house during or after a hurricane, nor did any of the permanent residents in that neighborhood.

As near as I can tell, Statten Island is like the Gulf Coast, much of it is only a few feet about sea level. And unlike Rockport Texas, there is no barrier island between Statten and the ocean.

Sandy was a very slow moving storm. People had over a week to prepare. My daughter lives in a small apartment in DC. I told her a week before Sandy to go to the grocery store, buy enough candles, batteries, and non-perishable food to last a week, and I'd send her enough money to pay for it.

Last night I saw some poor woman on Statten Island crying that her house was flooded, she had no food, and why didn't the government bring her food?


I have no sympathy for these blue state parasites. If they are starving 2 days after Sandy, what would happen to these hudled masses if there was ever an unscheduled natural disaster?

Suppose an Iranian nuke went off in a container ship, or there was a big earthquake, or a really fast moving hurricane?

I'll tell you what would happen. The government would be tied in knots. The politicians would be in bunkers, finger pointing over youtube.

The President and Governor would drop in via helicopter, pose with some lucky citizen, get back in the helicopter, and go back to their polling experts to calculate the best way to keep a crisis from going to waste.

The only help the blue state parasites would get would be coming in from the red states.

It is disgusting that 47% of Americans have no sense of self-reliance at all.

Strongly worded comment follows.

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

"It might be better, because businesses have to offer something that moves you to part with your money."

Yes. Government, on the other hand, only has to offer 51% of the people something that moves them to vote to take your money away.

Shanna said...

Walmart was incredibly helpful after Katrina.

Browndog said...

FEMA Taps Private Vendors to Meet Sandy Victim's Needs

FEMA only began to solicit bids for vendors to provide bottled water for distribution to Hurricane Sandy victims on Friday, sending out a solicitation request for 2.3 million gallons of bottled water at the website. Bidding closed at 4:30 pm eastern.

In all fairness, there is no way FEMA could have seen this coming---sneaking little deathstorm-

Who needs water?

"Doin' a heckuva job, Brownie"

wyo sis said...

It should be very apparent to people by now that the most help anyone can expect from government in a crisis like this is NONE.
Not for many days and maybe never.
Look to yourself, your family, your church and your neighbors, for help and give it in the same way.

city said...

thanks for sharing.

Emil Blatz said...

I got your business, right here!

Rusty said...

The FEMA guy and his trailer in the news.
" I was supposed be here at 10:00 AM but I said to hell with that and got here at 8:00. I'll be open from 8:00 to 8:00 til they tell me to leave."

It's a damn good thing folks only need disaster relief in the daylight hours.

One disaster. One FEMA guy. One trailer.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

It's a mistake to not consider people's better nature. It's a fatal flaw to not encourage it. The right philosophy respects individual dignity and emphasizes voluntary exploitation. A valuable side-effect is that it wil also mitigate progressive corruption.