In their fervor to cut regulations and budgets, Republicans forget that most regulations and programs were enacted for good reason. The latest example of reckless repeals came with a steep price. Mudslides in western North Carolina killed five people and damaged numerous homes in the wake of torrential rains.
Back in 2004, when mudslides killed five people in Macon County, the state ordered a geological survey to identify dangerous slopes in the western-most counties of the state. The Republicans cut funding for the project when they took power in 2011. The opponents of the mapping project included developers who wanted to build on the sides of mountains and didn’t want to scare away prospective buyers.
We can’t say for sure whether the mapping project alone would have saved lives. However, it might have given people who lived in precarious areas time to get out or it might have prevented some of the building in the first place. We don’t know how many other houses might be on slopes that will come down in the next downpour.
Now, we’ll probably see a rush to restore funding to a similar program like the mapping project. Republicans will claim victory for trying to prevent future disasters instead of admitting that their negligence and zeal to cut taxes and regulations may have led to this one. Maybe they’ll think more about cutting first and asking questions later.
To be fair, the GOP has a point about regulations. They often become out of date and more bureaucratic than useful. However, almost all were enacted to deal with a problem. If the regulations aren’t addressing the problem, then change them, but if the problem is real, as in the case of mudslides on mountainsides, they should be kept in place. Cutting regulations purely for the sake of deregulation is dangerous policy and leads to serious unintended consequences.