In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, we see a good example of the reason we have a United States government:
[To] provide for the… and general Welfare of the… States
Yes, I intentionally cut the word United from United States. It is, after all, just an adjective. By removing that adjective, I wish to direct your attention to the States as individual entities, not the United States as a single entity. As Benjamin Zimmerman of the University of Pennsylvania pointed out, the United States was originally considered a plural noun, not a singular noun.
The primary Power given to Congress was to Defend the States, and to provide for their General Welfare. That is where FEMA comes in. FEMA is an example of what our national government should be. It is simple not economical for each individual State to prepare for all possible contingencies — floods, earthquakes, blizzards, etc. Furthermore, the preparations of an individual State are likely to be rendered inoperative by the very emergency they are designed to alleviate. If a FEMA center is destroyed, operations can be directed from a center outside the afflicted area.
This is not “big government,” this is right government. Our national government is a creation of the States, and was intended for the Welfare of the States. If you want your government to provide for your personal welfare, then look to your State and local governments, not to the national government.