It was no doubt both unfortunate and upsetting that both presidential candidates decided to attempt to make the tragic Midwest flooding into some sort of a campaign issue over the weekend. The last thing that anyone wants when their family car is floating away is for some politician to attempt to put a political bumper sticker on the car. When tragedy strikes, the worst thing some politicians can do is to blame one another for opposing this bill or that bill, especially when it was a larger series of bad priorities and policies coming out of Washington at many agency levels that helped to create this major flooding disaster.
This Midwest flooding will have a major impact on food prices as a large share of soybeans, corn and many other crops have been destroyed. Every American will be impacted by this disaster in some way or another. Tens of thousands of persons are now left homeless, and billions in damage have taken place, all because of a failure of state and federal agencies to work effectively together to make strong and safe levees a major government priority.
Washington has most concerned itself with war and other botched priorities during the eight Bush years and largely ignored vital domestic infrastructure needs. Many Midwest levees were only built well enough to withstand a 100 year structural quality test standard in quality or lacked sufficient height if high waters would challenge the levee in strength. By comparison, in the Netherlands many of the levees meet with a 1,250 to 10,000 year construction quality standard. State and federal authorities allowed a patchwork of poorly constructed levees built by towns, agencies or even individual farmers to stand as the only line of defense against flooding destroying much of America's vital food supply. Many of these levees were hardly any better in quality than what would be expected to be found in parts of Africa, India or even remote cities in China. Now a city like Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the second largest city in the state has 100 blocks of it's downtown area flooded as well as much of it's important farmlands.
Obama was critical of the opposition of John McCain to the Water Resource Development Act of 2007, and McCain was critical of Obama's vote against a McCain sponsored bill to make some levee construction a bigger government priority. However, both bills only offered a tiny fraction of the type of funding really required to really build decent quality levees beyond the Third World quality standards that many now meet. A whole new mindset from Washington to build world class quality levees has always been lacking. The current levees are poor American workmanship at it's very worst, but just about what you can expect if you don't have any real money to spend on the projects.
Under the misguided conservative ideology of the Bush Administration along with Reagan and Bush 1, a steady dismantling of safety and quality regulations have left the Midwest with a poorly constructed patchwork of mostly poorly constructed levees. Conservatives have helped to turn America into a near Third World nation in which these poorly constructed levees were only bound to fail once challenged by any significant water strength, as the nation shoveled billions and even trillions into military hardware and wars, more concerned about small bands of international terrorists than the far more likely threats from natural disasters.
It is not only with sky high energy prices, rapid food price inflation, a home foreclosure crisis and rising unemployment and other areas that the Bush Administration has helped to make this nation into a near Third World state, but it is also by allowing a poor infrastructure of levees and other critical flood barriers to destroy first New Orleans and now the Midwest. And with a shortage of many food crops that will result from this flooding, the nation will now pay dearly. Even billions of dollars in disaster aid to tens of thousands of flood victims is hardly enough to resolve and repair all the harm of this human tragedy created by a misguided Washington under Bush's leadership hell-bent on deregulation of every vital public safety line of defense in sight.
The Bush Administration came into office with just two main misguided priorities. The first was giving into nearly every demand of the oil industry, and now gas and oil prices have skyrocketed from $28 a barrel when Bush was elected to about $138 a barrel now. Gas has gone from around $1.80 a gallon up to $4.07 a gallon or more now. And war with Iraq was the other main misguided priority, sucking away vital funds from such domestic needs as providing safe levees in the Midwest so that America's food supply would be safe from assaults from natural disasters. Because America has spent so much for bombs and wars for overseas, the nation has become weak and vulnerable at home. Natural disasters will always injure and kill many more Americans than any small bands of international terrorists ever will, and the nation needs to be wise enough to realize that fact. The Bush concept of national security is a simplistic and one dimensional one in which the nation was allowed to become very vulnerable at home to almost any serious weather related challenge to a patchwork of poor construction quality, cheaply built, aging series of weak levees and dams that would be certain to break down at some point. Much human misery is now the price we all pay.