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WaPo news flash! – the federal government is wasteful and inefficient

The Washington Post has a front page analysis of the progress, or lack thereof, in rebuilding the region hit by hurricane Katrina.

What the article demonstrates is the glaring problem of unrealistic expectations.

Nearly five months after Hurricane Katrina swamped New Orleans, President Bush’s lofty promises to rebuild the Gulf Coast have been frustrated by bureaucratic failures and competing priorities, a review of events since the hurricane shows.

First, five months isn’t very much time in the context of a project of such magnitude, much too early to evaluate overall success or failure in the rebuilding effort. Of course there should be ongoing evaluation of the progress and adjustments need to be made as problems are found, and of course everyone would like the whole region to be back to normal yesterday, but people need to be realistic.

Second, anyone who is surprised to find the federal government beset by waste, inefficiency, and bureacratic fumbling must have recently arrived from another planet. And they certainly can’t lay all that at the feet of President Bush. You go to a massive regional cleanup operation with the federal bureacracy you have, not the one you’d like to have. This is big government in action, or inaction. If the federal government were more focused on its core constitutional responsibilities, rather than trying to run every aspect of society from Washington D.C., they would likely be more effective in those core responsibilities.

posted by: The Editors @ 9:35 am January 28, 2006


  1. When you have a political party in power that neither believes government has a function, other than filtering tax monies to coporations, nor is competent at government in the first place, that is what you get…The Republican Party.

    In August 1992, Hurricane Andrew assaulted Florida and other Southern states with 170-mile-an-hour winds, killing 23 people and leaving a trail of devastation. The severity of the storm caught FEMA off-guard, and the agency did too little, too late to help the state recover, enraging thousands of storm victims. Several days after Andrew dissipated, Dade County’s emergency manager famously pleaded, “Where the hell is the cavalry?”

    Two months later, President George H.W. Bush paid a price of sorts at the polls when Bill Clinton shrunk the incumbent’s once-sizable lead and came within two percentage points of beating Bush in Florida. It was an important lesson learned for both the politicians and the emergency agency.

    In 1993, President Clinton’s new FEMA director, James Lee Witt, set the agency on a corrective course. Witt, who had served under then-Gov. Clinton as director of Arkansas emergency management, embarked on an ambitious campaign to bulk up the agency’s natural disaster programs while staying prepared for “all hazards.” Witt’s changes eventually reversed FEMA’s reputation for being unfocused and ineffective. The agency garnered praise from both Democrats and Republicans for improving coordination with state and local emergency offices and turning attention and resources to the benefits of disaster mitigation.

    From its first months in office in 2000, the Junior Bush’s administration made it clear that emergency programs, like much of the federal government, were in for a major reorientation. (That’s Republicanese for “we don’t think government should be responsible for it, so we’re going to break it.”)

    At FEMA, Dubya appointed a close aide (aka “crony”), Joe Allbaugh, to be the agency’s new director. Allbaugh had served as then-Gov. Bush’s chief of staff in Texas and as manager of his 2000 presidential campaign. Along with Karl Rove and Karen Hughes, Allbaugh was known as one part of Bush’s “iron triangle” of professional handlers.

    Some FEMA veterans complained that Allbaugh had little experience in managing disasters, and the new administration’s early initiatives did little to settle their concerns. (Sound familiar? “You’re doin’ a great job here Brownie.”)

    In a May 15, 2001, appearance before a Senate appropriations subcommittee, Allbaugh signaled that the new, stripped-down approach would be applied at FEMA as well. “Many are concerned that federal disaster assistance may have evolved into both an oversized entitlement program and a disincentive to effective state and local risk management,” he said. “Expectations of when the federal government should be involved and the degree of involvement may have ballooned beyond what is an appropriate level.”

    Dubya’s done a lot to help safety in the coal mines too. For ineffective, incompetent government, always vote Republican…they don’t think government has a job in the first place.

    Comment by Ghost Dansing — January 29, 2006 @ 2:36 pm January 29, 2006

  2. Yep, there were no hurricanes or mine accidents before January 20, 2001 when President Bush took office. All bad things that happen in the world are the fault of George W. Bush. Very rational. Thank you for visiting and commenting.

    Comment by The Editors — January 29, 2006 @ 6:24 pm January 29, 2006

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