Flood Victims Derided

A Republican state legislator has been quick to rush to the assistance of flood victims with that favorite Republican commodity, derision for those who need flood assistance, calling them “the root of all of our nation’s spending and debt problems.”

In a blog post from Rep. Tom Burnett (R-Bozeman) written in response to the current floods, Burnett said that his father had once rejected federal disaster assistance and that this presumably was the only honorable way to behave:

How admirable and rare is such pride and independence. How desperately it is needed. Handouts are killing us. They are the root of our nation’s spending and debt problems.

What does Tom Burnett advise flood victims the root of all our nation’s spending and debt problems to do?

Dad had a chainsaw. He had standing timber. He had tools and know-how. He knew how to mix concrete. He had an independent spirit. He and Mom would rather not take handouts. They felt squeamish about burdening others.

Just go get a chainsaw like Tom Burnett’s dad and mow down some trees and rebuild your own bridges.  Think Tom Burnett makes no sense? That’s your problem, not his.

The state of Montana faces record flooding.


54 Comments on "Flood Victims Derided"

  1. Very funny! Mr. Burnett, get out your chainsaw and get after that flood! The image is priceless.

  2. One more reason to remove bug-killed trees and restore historic aspen habitat. We watched many dead pine go down Basin Creek and witnessed aspen stands surviving the flooding.

  3. This comments not only demonstrate callous lack of caring for one’s neighbors, they demonstrate the profound incompetence with which Republicans make decisions which affect the large numbers of people. This is freaking ridiculous.

  4. There’s the Texas Solution, from the guy who alternates between calling for seccession and Federal Aid


  5. One of the benefits of membership in a community is the opportunity to share risk, thereby reducing the cost of disaster to those who experience it. Burnett apparently regards that as moral weakness, preferring to build character by shifting all the risk to the individual by telling him ‘you have no right to ask your neighbor for help.” I think that’s not just stupid, but crazy. He, of course, would call it personal responsibility, and isn”t being shy about flooding the internet with his position.

  6. I found a list of Fema diasters in Montana and 1970 is not listed….


  7. Building on flood plains has been a known problem for centuries; but since the community has tacitly approved it–by SHARING the risk with folks who can’t resist the undeniable attractions–we are no longer afraid to build where most men did not go before…

    • The Polish Wolf | June 11, 2011 9:47 PM at 9:47 PM |

      Horst, I can see your point – except that ‘floodplains’ hardly describes the areas being flooded now. The recent floods are well beyond the normal danger zone.

      • Because the constant pressure to liberalize the legal meaning of the term has been so successful, probably.
        The housing boom wasn’t just about how many houses were built. It also resulted in a lot of houses being built in very bad locations…

  8. Burnette’s solution is typical of those who believe they will never be stricken by disease, accident or old age. Are we to throw those unable to wield a chainsaw and rebuild their bridges into the rising waters? Here’s a newsflash for you, Mr. Burnette: someday, you, too, will grow old and will not be as hale and hearty and full of pride as you are today. Unless you get hit by a bus.

    • Libertarians are intellectually certain the race is being dangerously weakened by efforts within the community to accomodate those among us who do not measure up to the expectations of Ayn Rand and her acolytes.

  9. From Mr. Burnette’s post: “The FEMA worker came around with his clipboard. He had a talk with Dad and Mom.”

    FEMA wasn’t created until 1979.

  10. Burnett is at least 60. Hmmm. Also did you notice he left a comment in response to this post on his own blog, not denying any of this.

  11. I find Tom’s reaction surprising on one level, and somewhat nauseating on another.

    The surprising part is that his father, by all accounts a kind and admirable man, was a public school teacher. Apparently he failed to teach Tom what every school teacher should know, which is that we’re all kind of in this together.

    The other part is something that has left me queasy for years. Without going into the seedier parts of Mormon history, suffice it to say that the LDS church (of which Tom is a member) only survived, grew and thrives with similar coerced communal sharing of its members, a sharing that Burnett now derides regarding disaster relief. I see little difference between requiring tithes and requiring taxes if the benefit goes to all, whether that group be Mormons, Montanans or Americans. Don’t fret, I won’t get started describing the rather anti-self-reliant benefits that Tom’s church has reaped from it’s tax exempt status.

    At heart, self-reliance is something that people should be proud of. But that’s only the case because it goes beyond the norm. If you can fix your car, grow your food or tie your own shoes, you should be proud that you can do so. Take pride in your abilities. If everyone is required to do such things, then where is the source of your personal pride? Shaming people for not doing what others are rightly proud of defeats the whole mystique of self-reliance, and generally makes the tut-tut nanny look like an arrogant prick. It also insults the prideful, by telling them they did little more than the expected. I don’t think Tom meant to insult his Dad, but he really just did.

    And, Lynn. I need to express my admiration for your ability to research when you smell a fib. I respect you, and have and will continue to. Well done.

    • Something like a knee-jerk condemnation of Mormons by a Dillon boy there, wulf?

      • A condemnation of hypocrisy; and I’m not from Dillon, ignoramus.

      • The Polish Wolf | June 12, 2011 1:36 AM at 1:36 AM |

        Wulf did seem a little hostile towards the LDS church, but he has a good point – I frankly admire the LDS church for their emphasis on community. It has made them highly successful, and is a trait found originally in most Christian religions. Remember, according to the Bible, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” was the alibi of the first murderer. Now it is a rallying cry for libertarians and Rand followers, who somehow include in their ranks self-professed ‘Christians’.

        • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | June 12, 2011 8:06 AM at 8:06 AM |

          TRADITION!, oh yes, TRADITION, sings Tevye! And how important it really is! For the Jewish people that is. And with the Mormons, they sing COMMUNITY! Oh yes, COMMUNITY!

          And you’re quite right. Community IS very important to the Mormons. AND it makes for a great retirement plan! Ten wives who have ten kids apiece, and the old man never has to work again! Luv it!

          Sorry, but the reality is that Mormons take care of OTHER Mormons. That’s it. There is NO desire to help the gentiles. We must be honest here. Mormonism is more a corporation than a religion in my book. And really, I’m NOT into made up religions, gold tablets notwithstanding! (and why gold? wouldn’t some nice WOOD tablets have worked as well? maybe oak? sorry, I’m a wood guy)

          And P. wolf, just HOW MANY folks still practice polygamy down there in Utah? Do you know? (I do. Lots!)

          Look, I don’t care WHAT bullshit people want to believe in the name of freedom of religion, but there certainly ARE undeniable characteristics of certian religions, and Mormons DO exclusively take care of other Mormons. That is NOT exhibiting “commumity” in my book. Maybe yours, but not mine.

          Now, that being said, I find MOST all religions to be so much bullshit. Oh sure, there are good people in all religions, but on the whole, religions have done at LEAST an equal amount of evil as good in the world.

          So now, before folks start calling me a bigot, (which I’m not) please LIST the efforts of the Mormons to help the COMMUNITY at large. Ain’t none. Don’t exist. For Mormons, the idea of the “common good” doe NOT exist in any sense beyond their own religion.

          I think that there are INDEED legitimate concerns about a Mormon president, JUST as there are concerns about a guy like Bush, an oil man! Bush did INDEED use the country’s treasury to furthe the interests of is fascist pals. Would a Mormon prez do he same? I dunno.

          And tiny tommy burnut is simply a liar. It’s EASY to spout self-reliance when belongs to a group that will RUSH to his aid when he really needs it. Tom’s a Mormon. He don’t NEED no stinkin’ gubmint money. He’s got Mormon money!

          • Not all who practice Polygamy are Mormons and there are 10’s of thousands in the US that practice Polyamory (the practice of adults having more than one concentual loving relationship) just in America, Larry. Further, the “main stream” Latter Day Saints do not allow Polygamy any more the modern Christian Churches allow witch burning. If you have an issue with the Latter Day Saint faith, fine – many do – but please stick to more realistic and modern concerns.

            • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | June 13, 2011 7:09 AM at 7:09 AM |

              Uh huh. I see. Once AGAIN another writer who knows NOTHING about what they’re writing about. For the record, Moorcat, just HOW many folks in Utah are practicing polygamy? Any ideas? I thought not. Might I suggest the expose the Deseret News (ever heard of it) did on polygamy a number of years ago? I think you might be quite suprised to discover just how MANY of your “mainstream” folks still practice.

              And BTW, I think I was pretty clear on the issues I have with Mormonism. But do tell, what do YOU find admirable about their “religion”. They are extreme conservative wackjobs in my book. And yes, there are some that practice some extremely bizarre sexual practices. Are they mainstream? What constitutes mainstream? Do THIRTY THOUSAND practicing polygamists constitute mainstream? Yeah, I see your point. There were nearly thirty thousand witches burned, right?

              Apples and oranges, dude. There are LOTS of good books out there by ex-Mormons. Read some and get back with me.

            • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | June 13, 2011 7:16 AM at 7:16 AM |

              Here, Moorcat, I’ll help your education along. Now, if you can find an EQUIVALENT number of contempary witch burnings, you win.


              It IS an issue with me, as are the fact there are STILL many groups of practicing Mormons who marry off the young girls to old dudes and kick the young boys outta the compounds! Strange, very strange.

              Also, having to have TEN kids to get your own planet seems just a wee bit bizarre to THIS practicing atheist! But I could be wrong. Ya never know.

        • Wulf did seem a little hostile towards the LDS church,

          Not hostile, PWolf. Realistic.

    • Thanks. Not being born in Montana, I had to look up the history of flooding in the State.. FEMA was not created till 1979 but it was a coordination of many agencies, local, State and Federal.

      While I don’t completely trust Wikiapedia, here’s an overview:


  12. Good thing the Federal Government wiped out the Native population in Montana otherwise they would have to use their chainsaw for genocide .

  13. Maybe a case of the post-rapture chainsaw blues.

  14. John Barleycorn | June 10, 2011 1:53 PM at 1:53 PM |

    Well what percentage of Natives lived there in 1800 ? I’m defending native populations though it came out harsher than if I had calmed down before I posted . 94% is not Native and they didn’t give up their traditional land they were taken by force .

  15. John Barleycorn | June 10, 2011 2:14 PM at 2:14 PM |

    Yeah you are right . Trying to tie in the self reliance myth and how those who came before paved the way for white settlers to take over the state and I did a poor job of it .

    • In a comment (that for whatever reason is still awaiting moderation) I agree with you and attempt to point out that self-reliance is a personal mythology. It has little to do with social reliance and everything to do with personal pride in the face of what should actually be prideful, beyond the base expectations of our societies. The cultures native to Montana, now sadly decimated, were almost (if not completely) socialist in their reliance on each individual to support the whole.

      I apologize if you felt I was attempting to insult you. I really wasn’t meaning to do that at all.

      • Trying to jack the notion of self-reliance back into a matter of individual choice is just a part of your political theology, wulf. The whole notion of pridefulness is another sick result of social (political) stigma. With no overweening judgement of what is, or is not apropriate, our species would be no more self-conhscious than ants or bees.
        And no more individually interesting either…

        • Actually, Jed, it has nothing to do with a political theology save your say so. Make your argument if you think you have one. Just don’t be self-“conhscious” about it.

          • Did you try your hand at teaching fifth grade spelling at one time wulf? It would have been a shame for all of that pent-up retention to have wilted and withered until now.

  16. Getting even farther afield: “Montana: American Indian Political Power. “the Montana Legislature boasts the strongest American Indian representation per capita of any state….it is the only state that has a tribal college for each Indian reservation, and no other state has full accreditation of all its tribal colleges, as Montana does. Montana leads the nation in number of tribal colleges within the state (seven).””

  17. Getting even farther afield, Ezra Klein: “Montana: American Indian Political Power. “the Montana Legislature boasts the strongest American Indian representation per capita of any state….it is the only state that has a tribal college for each Indian reservation, and no other state has full accreditation of all its tribal colleges, as Montana does. Montana leads the nation in number of tribal colleges within the state (seven).””

    I stuck one with a link in moderation, too.

  18. i have a couple in the spam box, too.

  19. Apologies for all the comments that were stuck in moderation. This blog’s spam software gets confused sometimes.

  20. Did any of you read his other posts? The man is obsessed with hating on poor people. And his facts? Utterly unsourced.

  21. Hot dog. I’m sure the Bozeman Comical will be calling him up soon to ask him to explain. What a nutcase. I can’t believe people are out there expressing this kind of position and no one is calling them on it.

  22. What an arrogant and ignorant buffoon….what about a combat veteran with one arm left, shall he be Burnette’s ‘manly man’ and put the chainsaw between his teeth or what? Outrageous, intolerant and pathetic. Perhaps Burnette can start a ‘flood fund’ resourced by GOP/Tea Party(Koch) legislators who would gladly RETURN their federal USDA subsidies, and throw in those state-funded health benefits to help their fellow man, huh?

  23. Maybe Mr. Burnette is posturing to run for Congress, so he can be alongside Eric Kantor who had NO PITY for tornadoe victims with his callous and cruel remarks about FEMA and federal asssistance? Why aren’t Tea Party folks complaining about federal assistance from FEMA – although slow – when they stood for nullification and SECESSION?

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | June 11, 2011 6:54 AM at 6:54 AM |

      To the tune of I’m Proud to be a Murcan

      I’m proud to be an American,
      Where at least I know I’m free.
      And when the gubmint takes my dough
      I’ll yell that I drink only tea.
      But I’ll proudly stand UP next to you
      When the water comes my way
      And cry for help from Unca Sammmmmm…
      God BLESS the USA!

      *Apologies to lee greenturd for stealing his music.

  24. without FEMA States will take a longer time to recover from natural diasters-longer disruption in the local economys

    So by killing Fema …..http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/151209/the_gop%27s_cia_playbook%3A_destabilize_country_to_sweep_back_into_power/

  25. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | June 11, 2011 7:09 AM at 7:09 AM |

    Even MORE compassioante fascism, or nice nazis as I like to call them. This is bad shit, REALLY bad shit! When are people gonna finally figure it out? Heads need to start rolling. Hell, the dirty bastards sold out our country little by little, and now the chickens are coming home to roost. We have arrived. We are now officially a third world country. Hope them dumb lazy bastard teawankers are happy now!

    But for some REAL personal responsibility, I suggest that each and every ONE of those pukes Anyus Rants buy their OWN guns, pay for their OWN plane ticket, head their dumb asses to a war, and pay for it on their OWN dime! Now THAT would be some personl responsibility! (or maybe have the Kock bros. pay for it.)

    Here is your compassionate fascists in action. Where’s Dopey Reeburps outrage? Up his ass I suppose.


  26. Go to Burnett’s site. He’s been responding in the comments.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers | June 14, 2011 10:43 PM at 10:43 PM |

      Spoken like a true Christian. Oh, wait a minute. My bad. Mittens is a MOORman! Gee, what a compassionate “religeeon” THAT must be! Never read the damn book, but they MUST have a reverse Good Samaritan story in there somewhere to teach its believers. Dude finds a guy by the side of the road who’s in a bad way. So, the Bad Samatiran tells the dude that he’d really, really like to help him but that would be immoral! You see, it’s Mormon wisdom. It’s IMMORAL to be MORAL! Get it? Mittens does. And THIS is the piece-o-sh*t who’s leadin’ the Pubbie pack. Is it too late to vote for Sarah???

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