California Wildfires Rage: Gross Mismanagement vs Gross Insensitivity

Mike Mish Shedlock

A reader makes the case for gross mismanagement. Does that excuse gross insensitivity?

I discussed the California wildfires yesterday in As Wildfire Rage in CA, Trump Tweets "Mismanagement" Threatens to Cut Funds.

Here is Trump's Tweet at the heart of the discussion:

I made the claim "Even IF there is [gross mismanagement], it is is grossly insensitive at best, for Trump to have made that Tweet."

This post is a followup to highlight the best replies.

Reader Comments

  1. Since there are regularly forest fires in California there should be some lines cut in the forest to partition the forests so the fires can not spread so quickly so if fire starts in one part it burns only that part of forest.
  2. Also areas where people live should again have lines cut around them in the surrounding forest to divide the residential areas so the forest fires can not spread so easy to them.
  3. Furthermore the building codes need to be updated so that in a fire prone area only roofs made from from metal are allowed on buildings so if the roof gets flying ash with spark in it the whole house does not burn down.
  4. Also if one has a swimming pool they should pump that out to the surrounding grass and trees around house to make them wet when forest fires are coming near so the fire does not take as easily.
  5. Trump is right that there has been obvious mismanagement of the forests but is it in forest controlled by State of California or forests controlled by Federal government is another matter.
  6. As always Trump is an insensitive buffoon that does not seem to know how to tweet in a little more thoughtful way.

Thanks to JL for all of those comments.

Number four is an individual action, number one is a government action.

Other readers noted this is no different than living in a hurricane or flood zone. I agree.

People who live in such places do so voluntarily and they should pay the bill. Putting a tax on all of California or subsidizing cheap insurance is the wrong approach.

As a Libertarian, I do not like suggestion 3. But I do agree that more information about the benefits of fire-proof roofs, perhaps fiberglass shingles might help.

In Praise of Insensitivity

None of this excuses gross insensitivity. One reader disagrees.

"Please let's have more gross insensitivity, aka truth. And if some snowflakes can't handle the truth, let them suffer the consequences."

That's ridiculous. One does not have fan the flames with insensitive rhetoric to spread the truth.

Comment on Subsidies

Reader Stuki also had a pertinent comment.

> Subsidizing those choosing to live there, is where the problem arises. Malibu is a nice pleasant place to live. The cost of living there, includes having your stuff charred now and then. Make your choices, take your risks, and live (or die) with them. People still moved there; before FEMA, state and federal "crisis aid," and subsidized insurance. As in every other aspect of life, no need for governments to meddle.

I agree. as noted above. People who live in such places do so voluntarily and they should pay the bill.

Correct Response

Trump should have shown empathy and volunteered to help California work out a better fire prevention program.

That would have gained him votes in the next election rather than costing him votes.

Trump repeatedly steps on his own feet. He could easily have gained votes out of this tragedy, at no cost to anyone.

All he had to do was show a bit of empathy, and volunteer to help with a plan.

If California "grossly mismanaged" the situation, it should be easy to offer good suggestions.

Mr. President, where are those suggestions?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Comments (25)
No. 1-15

Mish, forest fire prevention solutions are well known. But implementing them is near impossible in regions where environmentalists and tree huggers are active. Local governments allow activists to run forest (mis)management instead of adhering to proven wildfire suppression techniques. It results in recurring natural disasters. Exhibit A is the massive forest fires in the Northwest in the past 2 summers. Trump is not at fault here.


Gross insensitivity?

Very few, if any, non-Californians will EVER have pity/compassion for California, CA residents or CA problems.

Just like folks who rebuild on a flood plain, or expect a bail-out when their FLA mobile home is blown away by a hurricane for the umteenth time.

If folks out there want compassion, then they should leave CA or start electing competent leaders who work for citizens, not illegals. Take a look at CA's budgetary diversions/corruption over the past 40 years... therein lies the root cause of 1) terrible infrastructure, 2) terrible public schools, 3) mismanagement of (natural) resources, 4) sky-high taxes. Californians did this to themselves.

You want to live in the middle of a drought-stricken, unmanaged forest? Don't expect sympathy when poor life decisions result in poor life conditions.


Trump's response IS the right response.

Time to start telling it like it is... you want to live in a drought-stricken state? Then live with the consequences. You want to divert tax revenue away from infrastructure & natural resource mgmt. for decades? Then live with the consequences.

Trump is merely expressing what everyone (incl. Californians) already knows - this is why he wins... right or wrong, DT calls it like he sees it.

Mish obviously/still doesn't understand Trump. At all.


If Trump tweeted that one week from now, would anyone (including Mish) pick up the torch and carry it? (sorry for the metaphor) I think not. Perhaps another example of negative publicity is better than none.


the real issue is that neither the private or public sector is allocating resources to address issues related to climate change. Oh and not a word about the idiot that started the camp fire.


As Brian Rice, California Firefighter Association President points out 60% of forest land is under Federal management, Trump has diverted resources away from Forestr management. Add to that a drought perhaps caused by global warming and the case can be made that it is the Federal government that is mismanaging the situation. Trump pointing fingers and playing the blame game isn't good management either.

Perhaps Trump supporters are impressed by Donald's response to the situation but it is exactly what is wrong, not right the Trump Presidency.

I do agree that building codes are an issue.Houses are too close to areas prone to fire.


Sure, DT's response is "not presidential".

Hasn't everyone gotten the memo RE: Trump behavior = not presidential?

Spotlighting CA's gross mismanagement - even whilst the fires burn - is a winning tactic for Trump... obviously. How can anyone not understand this dynamic by now?

If voters wanted PC/measured political-speak from their president, then DT would never have survived the GOP primaries much less win the GE.

Get over it already.

Mike Mish Shedlock
Mike Mish Shedlock


"If Trump tweeted that one week from now, would anyone (including Mish) pick up the torch and carry it? (sorry for the metaphor) I think not. Perhaps another example of negative publicity is better than none."

If Trump made a Tweet as I suggested it would either be all over the news or he could have accurately blamed the media.

This disaster was a layup for Trump to win votes. Instead, it will cost him.

His strong supporters will not give a damn, but it will cost him independent votes.

It is disheartening to see people praise Trump no matter what stupid thing he says. It was politically stupid. Period.

Mike Mish Shedlock
Mike Mish Shedlock


Mike Mish Shedlock
Mike Mish Shedlock


Pelosi on staying on as Speaker: "If Hillary had won, I could go home"

Translation: We need someone stupid to lead the way


Talking about “insensitivity” is really silly – almost as silly as the stupid Pasadena Firefighters Association criticizing the President because he wrote “forest fire” instead of the correct bureaucratic term “urban interface fire”. Would it be “insensitive” to point out to a school class that a crazy guy is out in the corridor with a gun? There are a whole lot more forests which suffer from the same problem of bad forest management practices – putting people’s lives at risk. What is “insensitive” as well as dishonest is to pretend that this unnecessary disaster had anything to do with alleged anthropomorphic “global warming”.

Even before the disastrous Yellowstone fires in 1988 (30 years ago!), forest management specialists were warning that forests had been allowed to become overgrown – but their warnings were ignored by couch-bound “environmentalists”.

In the South West, research has shown that Indian tribes historically set fires in the forests every year, rotating the burned area on about a 10-year schedule. They did this to facilitate hunting the next spring, when animals would congregate in the burned area to feed on the fresh green shoots. This practice kept the underbrush down and maintained the health of the forests. Once Indians stopped that practice, the forests became over-grown. And that situation became even more dangerous when rich white people started building expensive houses in the forest (“urban interface” in bureaucrat speech), not recognizing the risks.

Because foolish environmentalists used the courts and their political allies to prevent sound forest management, the forests became overgrown. Nature reacts with forest fires, or with insect infestations that kill trees. Some years ago, there was a massive bark beetle infestation in Arizona/New Mexico that left literally millions of trees standing dead. Some entrepreneurs came up with a scheme to cut down the dead trees and burn them in specially-designed power plants, clearing the dangerous fuel from the forests and providing electric power. Great idea! But rich white urban “environmentalists” successfully sued to stop the plan.

“Environmentalists” have blood on their hands. It is not insensitive to point out that they are putting people’s lives at risk.


The problem with #3 is not libertarian, it is that when your house catches fire under such conditions (high winds, firestorm), embers and burning things from your home might set my home on fire - even if I have a metal roof or take other measures. My insurance goes up because of what you do to your house (it also applies if the roof needs to be replaced or you add on a garage and such and don't use a metal roof, or otherwise have flammable movable objects).

To use a silly analogy but it makes the problem clear, what if I have a storage space on the edge near lots of homes and store explosives that will go off in a fire (say lots of fireworks) and will devastate everything in a quarter mile. I'm not "agressing" merely creating a risk that may or may not happen. Beyond that, lets say I was doing that for years before anything was developed locally, but no one bothered asking about what was in the warehouse, they just built housing and sold it without telling and houses may have switched owners until a story comes out about the danger. I have a prior Lockean claim - you don't want to risk being blown up, don't build within the blast radius - which I didn't hide, but I didn't put a flashing neon sign visible from space either.

As to Trump's insensitivity, I think most people on the right have lots of scar tissue so as not to care. When you advocate for free (crony, managed) trade agreements you all but do the same thing for people who will be displaced.

We used to have a culture where empathy and sympathy were valued, but instead of being appreciated they were weaponized. #BlackLivesMatter not when innocents but actual criminals are shot. Women who have kids out of wedlock then complain they can't give them expensive presents for christmas. Feminists complaining about discrimination because they get paid less in air conditioned offices rather than going to the Bakken or doing real construction (not holding the slow/stop sign).

Poor me, My below-sea-level home was flooded in a hurricane! Have pity (and send cash). Poor me, I load up on starch and sugar, am morbidly obese, but now have type 2 diabetes.

We need a Go-F**k-me that would deduct from GoFundMes and give the combined cash to worthier people.

Like being insufficiently philo-Zionist on Israel leads to charges of anti-Semitism, or not letting blacks use the restroom or reporting people you don't know is racism, or not wanting a bearded baritone in the Ladies' makes you a transphobe, or not wanting an army of MS-13 to come in makes you a xenophobe.

The pushback to Social Justice Warriors, Political Correctness, Pity Prostitutes, and such has made things coarse and insensitive, but being burned too often only leaves scar tissue.

Ron Cataldi
Ron Cataldi

That doesn't look like a forest fire to me, it looks like scrub. How are you supposed to manage scrub fires... the problem is Trump is a scrub president. The mismanagement thing is yet another idiot right wing talking point with no basis in reality.


Addressing point #1: At one point the fire jumped hwy 101. If such a wide firebreak was insufficient to stop the fire's spread, (six to eight 11' lanes and median and shoulder widths as well) then #1 proposal is unrealistic when the Santa Ana wind conditions are prevailing.


As someone who grew up in the foothills of Los Angeles I know that fire management has been a priority for years. Early on it focused on putting fires out quickly. Later prohibitions on wood roofs and rules requiring clearances between structures and landscaping. Fire breaks were a feature of the ridge lines in the hills for years until they were shown ineffective. Our house is still standing after 70 years providing affordable housing for all that time in spite of fires in areas nearby through the years. If after all that time a fire hits the structure it still would have been a good original investment considering the service life of the house.

Those not in the area may not realize that the "forests" here can not be used for wood production as scrub and non lumber species are best adapted to the dry environment. In Mexico similar forest areas were never subject to management. Wild fires went their course over the years regularly clearing the accumulating brush. As a result there is not the fire problem there. The US side or the border has to overcome the problems created earlier dating to management practices early in the twentieth century.

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