Saturday, September 03, 2005

The Government Are People Too

Hurricane Katrina

In the immediate aftermath of the mother of all hurricanes there grew a chorus of indignation toward "the government". Many don't seem to consider that the government is made up of people. In the case of the local and municipal governments they lost their homes and offices too. The local police and emergency responders suffered through the same storm and are likely to be some of the people you see being plucked from the water. The federal government is a large and bureaucratic behemoth, that it has reacted as quickly as it has should be considered a small miracle.

Is there a case to be made the the government should have been more prepared? Yes. This superstorm had been predicted for years. But stop and ask: Is LA as prepared as it should be for the "Big One"? Probably not. Disaster preparation is hard to do and extremely expensive. Should the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana have had better plans and contingencies? Yes, without a doubt, considering the unique geography and vital economic importance of the region.

Seeing the chaos and lawlessness on the TV was shocking. Still, I'm thinking I could find myself rifling through a grocery store if I had to feed my family trapped in a similar situation. I tread lightly on declaring absolutes toward the proper behavior of these victims. This is why I find the media's obsession with trying to find a scapegoat in all of this so repugnant.

As would be expected the "blame" goes all the way to the top. President Bush is a big boy and he can handle the criticism. Could federal government have had a better response? Sure. Absolutely. Everything can be done better especially with the benefit of hindsight. Consider if you will the sheer logistics of supplying a giant metropolitan area with food, supplies and fuel. Now, in one day it has all been wiped out. How long should it take move a massive amount of food, water, and supplies into an area where the infrastructure is gone?

Okay, you say, then the government should have mobilized the military and staked out the city(s) with guns and supplies for just such a situation. Maybe. But seriously, if you think the chorus from the news media is shrill now... Try to imagine the hysterical scenes on the evening news if George W. Bush ordered the military to occupy the city of New Orleans with the storm clouds brewing in the background. You and I both know the media would've gleefully superimposed Hitler's army marching on Paris.

I have done my share of beating up on "the government" over the years. In fact, it would be un-american not to. In times like these I say we give 'em a break and give 'em a hand. Right now they are telling us that what the victims need is cash. I'll do what I can.



Timothy Birdnow said...

Disaster relief and emergency management (along with national defense) are the principle duties of the Federal government. This is what the Founding Fathers created the United States to do.

Willmsy said...

My biggest problem with the whole Hurricane fiasco is this, tell all of these people that can't get out to go to the superdome and then "DON'T HAVE ENOUGH FOOD AND WATER FOR THEM!!!" this was not the federal governments fault.