Rational Homeland Security: Lowering Obstacles and Creating Economic and Socially Sensible Policies

Sep 19, 2007
B-369 Rayburn House Office Building


Rep. Patrick Kennedy

Although the federal government spends tens of billions of dollars annually on homeland security, Americans remain unsure about the nation's ability to respond to disaster - whether natural or manmade. It seems that regardless of how much we spend and plan, we are unable to substantially reduce the harm done by disasters or prepare communities for emergencies.

Perhaps it is time to rethink how governments at all levels prepare for and respond to disasters, recognizing that the first response to any disaster will not be from professional first responders but ordinary citizens.  In an effort to advance the discussion surrounding important questions about disaster response and recovery, the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, in conjunction with the offices of Rep. Patrick Kennedy and Sen. Mary Landrieu and New York University's Center for Catastrophe Preparedness and Response, will host a special lunch briefing for policy makers. Panelists include:

  • Dr. Emily Chamlee-Wright, Affiliated Senior Scholar at the Mercatus Center and Professor of Economics at Beloit College;
  • Dr. Eric Klinenberg, Professor of Sociology at New York University;
  • Dr. Roz Lasker, Director of the Division of Public Health at the New York Academy of Medicine; and
  • Dr. Monica Schoch-Spana, Senior Associate at the Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Participants will be able to hear from leading researchers as they look to answer the following questions:

  • How can public policy help promote grassroots disaster response?
  • How can homeland security spending better reflect actual needs and enhance rather than obstruct community response to disasters?
  • How can we engage community resources and knowledge after a disaster to promote more effective responses?

Empowering Local Response in the Wake of Disaster by Emily Chamlee-Wright