Libertarian Party offers sympathy to victims of Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey near the coast of Texas on Aug. 25.
Hurricane Harvey near the coast of Texas on Aug. 25.

Nicholas Sarwark, chair of the Libertarian National Committee, expresses the heartfelt sympathy of the Libertarian Party to the victims of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, to the families of those who have perished in the storm, and to all those who have suffered injuries and property damage.

Sarwark offers his appreciation and expresses his admiration for communities coming together to help those in peril. In addition to police, fire, EMS, and other government-provided responses, many private citizens have used their own boats, kayaks, and high-water vehicles to rescue people imperiled by flood waters inundating entire neighborhoods. Others have opened their homes and businesses to those needing shelter.

Neighbors have been helping neighbors in a successful decentralized response to the emergency, so in light of this, we caution the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to limit its role to support rather than command and control. The latter approach failed in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

“I grew up in Louisiana and lived in Texas for 15 years,” added Wes Benedict, executive director of the LNC. “I have family and many friends in Houston and farther south who are at risk. Obviously, everyone’s priority in Texas and Louisiana is, and should be, saving lives and avoiding injuries. Probably the last thing anybody wants to hear right now is advice from the Libertarian Party on how the free market might have somehow prevented this tragedy. It wouldn’t have. However, we are fortunate to live in an economically advanced country where loss of life from natural disasters is usually a small fraction of what happens in poorer, less free societies. Strong economies resulting from free markets do help save lives.”

As the flood waters ebb, we must ask ourselves how to minimize government intervention into insurance markets that exacerbates losses from natural disasters such as hurricanes, flooding, and earthquakes. That’s a long-term policy discussion, but there are also more immediate concerns. The libertarian magazine Reason listed “7 Things Donald Trump Shouldn’t Do After Hurricane Harvey,” such as cracking down on “gouging,” confiscating guns, or centralizing volunteer and relief efforts. Such heavy-handed government intervention in the aftermath of natural disasters makes conditions worse and hampers decentralized relief efforts.

There are many thousands of Libertarian Party members in Texas and Louisiana, who can be found both among the victims of Hurricane Harvey and among those who are heroically aiding them. Our thoughts remain with them all.