Heckuva Job

Courtesy of the Gulf Coast housing advocacy network, I see that FEMA has prohibited its staff from entering the formaldehyde-laced trailers used to shelter evacuees, even as it has stalled the CDC-led investigation into toxic levels of formaldehyde that it promised in July. (The Sierra Club documented that 83% of trailers across the Gulf region have higher than recommended levels.)

CBS has obtained internal emails between FEMA authorities:

In an Oct 19 email, a worker asks if there is “any safety reason you know of that says we can’t go into a [deactivated or previously used] trailer quickly to shut a vent.â€?

The response from the director of the Baton Rouge office, Jon Byrd, said, “the issue is formaldehyde.”

Then, on Oct. 22, this final answer from FEMA’s head of safety in Washington, David Chawaga: “Please reinforce … FEMA employees do not enter stored TTs until further notice…”

I don’t even know where to begin with this one; where’s Sheelzebub and her rage when I need her?

Instead, I leave you with this excerpt from the excellent and sadly relevant book The Welfare Experiments: Politics and Policy Evaluation.  Prof. Robin Rogers-Dillon examines how state welfare experiment waivers became the institutional channel through which 1996 welfare reform occurred, in particular because their false notion of being scientific and objective in their experimental design provided political cover for the task of dismantling AFDC.  She remarks on the reward for the high-profile, “first-mover advantage” exercised by conservative “policy entrepreneur” Tommy Thompson in narrowing the agenda on time-limits, along with other GOP reformers:

“Moreover, the policy entrepreneurs involved in the waiver programs went on to high-ranking posts in [Bush’s] Administration.  Clearly this level of political recognition was not for those who promoted social scientific knowledge.  It was for those who helped turn a small provision of the Social Security Act into an opportunity to restructure the American welfare state.”

With FEMA operatives as their henchmen, killing off the remaining indigent and vulnerable women, children, elderly and persons of color who refuse to just fucking die or disappear already!!!


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