• FEMA's $300 Hotel Rooms

      On the O'Reilly Factor tonight, Bill wanted to talk about problems with the Red Cross relief efforts after hurricane Sandy. Sure, the Red Cross is now a big bureaucracy, and it's made mistakes, but it's still much more effective than government.

      The Red Cross, for instance, spent far less than FEMA - about $100 million compared with $1.5 billion - yet managed to distribute more than 3.9 million relief items and provide 148,000 shelter stays. It is relatively efficient because it relies on volunteers: at least nine volunteers for every paid staff member.

      I volunteered with the "Occupy Sandy" group, run by the childish ("capitalism is broken") Occupy Wall Street people (it was the only group I found that was eager for volunteers and would take me). Because the effort involved volunteers and little bureaucracy, they got things quickly to people.

      Other private efforts were also effective. Economist Steve Horwitz points out: "Anheuser-Busch converted some beer production to water and distributed cans of water throughout the stricken area. Walmart had around 250 stores damaged by the storm, but within several days, all but 4 were up and running."

      By contrast, government was slow and wasteful. We were tipped off that FEMA pays up to $295 dollars a night for hotel rooms. FEMA puts people up in the "Dream Downtown" hotel in Manhattan, which advertises "ultra-plush bedding and 300-thread count Egyptian cotton."

      We asked FEMA about that. A spokesman said, "This is a temporary program that we activated to keep folks safe and get folks out of shelters."

      I don't see why taxpayers must pay for people to stay at places like this:

      FEMA pays for people to stay there for up to 41 days, so the bill for the taxpayers can be as high as $12,000 per person.

      As often happens, Government Fails but Individuals Succeed.

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