Donald Trump Never Met A Disaster He Couldn’t Make Much Worse

Back when conservative politics were actually political, rather than social, there was a guy by the actual real name of Grover Norquist who summed up the aim of Republican politicians:

I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.

Yes, back in the days before Nazis invaded America, Republicans and neo-conservatives focused on just three things. They wanted endless war, tax breaks for the rich, and to dismantle government regulations. Norquist’s quote is from 2001, but it sounds a little like he’s been skulking around the White House or something because the actual conservatives surrounding Donald Trump appear to be pushing back to that agenda.

Oh, and speaking of drowning, that’s what happens when you remove safety standards — those mean old nasty gub’mint regulations. So why would anyone do that? Well, the short answer is money. It’s always money, and fewer regulations mean faster, cheaper work. Normally, a politician can’t come out and just say “We’re getting rid of safety so rich people can have more money.” But Trump can, because his base is made up of equal parts Nazis, people too busy making Biblical excuses for him to notice, and just plain dumbasses.

There wasn’t really a chance to test this version of the “shoot someone on 5th Avenue” theory, though. Trump’s announcement that he was revoking rules protecting the environment in order to speed up cheap infrastructure was cloaked by his simultaneous defense of the Nazis who murdered Heather Heyer in Charlottesville.

The rule change that delivers on the promise of this article’s headline is one that used to require federal construction to account for rising sea levels when planning and building a project. That’s great for constructing a highway that should take three years in less than one. It’s not so great for the people living next to it, or the cities it runs through. The change is to an Obama rule that mandated construction two feet above future flood levels, which means that without that requirement, those fast, cheap roads could be underwater following even a mild natural disaster.

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FEMA has a few things to say about flooding — that it’s the leading cause of death among natural disasters in America, that 85% of all emergency declarations are due to floods, that it costs the government billions to recover from major flooding — but why not take it from me? I know from floods: I live in a town that used to flood every single year. Until our city hunkered down and made some riverfront construction rules, that is. The first year that I moved to this tiny hamlet in the Pacific Northwest, I found myself sandbagging a river with my new neighbors by November. My roommates and I ended up at one of their parents’ house 10 miles away, because the water came four feet up the stairs to our apartment.

Why did I live in the floodplain? Because I was poor. In fact, people in relative or severe poverty make up the largest percentage of those who live in the path of floods. So it’s not only states that will have to pay for flooding damage due to this rule reversal. The hardest-hit by this will be those least able to recover from it.


Featured image via Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images