Donald Trump has announced that he’s going to – or desires to – stop sending money to California through FEMA over forest fires. This seems fair enough to be honest for given the incidence of such fires they’re now part of normality rather than emergencies. This is before we even get to the major claim here, which is that Trump thinks some to all of such fires are caused by government actions themselves.
So, fair enough perhaps:
Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 9 January 2019
Note what FEMA is all about, that E stands for emergency. And California’s having fires every season now, it’s only exactly where they are which is the issue, not whether there will be some. Thus it’s not really a matter for that Federal level of government but something that can be and possibly should be handled in state. In theory at least things should only be bumped up to that Federal level when it’s something that a State on its own can’t handle. Either something that’s too large a problem to be handled at that more local level, or some rare event that may or may not happen in any one state.
The damage of and by California’s fires isn’t too large to be handled more locally and the probability of there being some such in any one year is 1 – thus not something that requires the insurance pooling effect of moving up that level of governance. So it’s at least arguably fair that the Feds don’t get involved here:
U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he has ordered a halt to federal emergency funds for California to fight wildfires and manage its forests unless officials in the western U.S. state can “get their act together.”
It’s also true that the costs of preventing such fires largely fall on California, while if outside funds come into to pay damages for fires which do happen then we’ve a certain moral hazard there. Costs of prevention and costs of clean up should fall on the same pockets otherwise we do have that hazard.
As to whether California is in fact delinquent in its forest management practices, so much so that more fires occur than should, well, that’s certainly possible. General policy for decades at every level has been to suppress all and any fire all of which leads to those which do take hold finding much more fuel. Those western forests are rather adapted to, rely upon even, regular and low level fires. But whether California is still that bad, or is worse than the Feds themselves, is another matter.