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Day 115-6: RAISE—Federal Flureaucrats 

Sorry for being so slow to pick up on America’s leap into community organizing. She-who-never-sleeps emailed me a news story about it, but I didn’t realize how weird it was until I stopped to read and google.

Since the hiatus struck, I’ve felt there are three dimensions I can inhabit. There’s the popular zone in which H5N1 is dead and bells resound in celebration. There’s my world, where gongs are for warning people. And there’s been the Federal world, which seems unusually, uncharacteristically, remarkably similar to my own. From the president on down, we are told that disaster looms unless we prepare.

FEMA 'HELPS' AFTER KATRINA, 2005: WHO ASKED THE FEDS TO TAKE OVER CHARITY?Now the Feds have actually done somethingjust days after I helped issue Evelyn’s DIY Manifestothough I am not claiming credit for the Department of Homeland Security’s decision to set up its own volunteer group. (DHS had already been recruiting Girl Scouts to fight terrorism and microbes.)

The ornately christened Restore America’s Independent Spirit & Enterprise looks to be a grand expansion of National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster. NVOAD is a Washington–based group of national, state, local, and faith-based volunteer organizations. Its board members have included the Federal Emergency Management Agency—FEMA, already part of the Department of Homeland Security—and the American Red Cross.

I confess I don’t see how creating RAISE can ever constitute the dramatic innovation so eloquently trumpeted by the president. Sure, the acronyms can make you dizzy and some people enjoy that sort of thing. But why do religious groups and charities need to be paid by Washington to do what they always said they wanted to do—and for which they constantly solicit vast sums from kind people?

Evelyn writes that she isn’t enthused, either. I’ll stick with her Do-It-Yourselfers, unsullied by taxes and bureaucracy. The LES DIY worked very well with our local churches and synagogues in Round One.

RAISE doesn’t need our help anyway. It’s already a hit in Congress, winning promises of big bucks from pols in both parties. It’s rapidly staffing up with candidates who flopped when they ran for elective office. I’d rather take soup from people who really want to dish it out—and who don’t work a clock, as these hacks will.

The Feds say they intend to contact the groups that coalesced so helpfully during Round One. They should bring guitars—and big amps!—when they come to my Village.

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