09/02/2005: Lack of Imagination...
Sheesh…I really *hate* to be quoting from the WSJ [bastion of ultra-conservative suck up to the Administration that it usually represents] but this one was so on point to my point of how this New Orleans “disaster response” and lack of planning show the flaws at the National Level of preparedness for anything that may come next:
“Imagination is not a gift usually associated with bureaucracies.
--The 9/11 Commission Report.
….We fail to use well what we know because we rely too much on large public bureaucracies. This was the primary lesson of the 9/11 Commission Report. Large public bureaucracies, whether the FBI and the CIA or FEMA and the Corps of Engineers, don't talk to each other much. They are poorly incentivized, if at all. Budgets, the oxygen of the acronymic planets, make bureaucracy's managers first responders to constant political whim. Real-world problems, as the 9/11 report noted, inevitably seem distant and minor: "Once the danger has fully materialized, evident to all, mobilizing action is easier--but it then may be too late."
Homeland Security, a new big bureaucracy, has struggled since 2001 to assemble a feasible plan to respond to another major terror event inside the U.S. The possibility, or likelihood, of a bird-borne flu pandemic is beginning to reach public awareness, but the government is at pains to create a sufficient supply of vaccine or a distribution system for anti-viral medicines. Any bets on which will come first--the flu or the distribution system?
Big public bureaucracies are going to get us killed. They already have. One may argue that this is an inevitable result of living in an advanced and complex democracy. Yes, up to a point. An open political system indeed breeds inefficiencies (though possibly the Jeb Bush administration that dealt with Hurricane Andrew is more competent than Gov. Blanco's team in Louisiana). And perhaps low-lying, self-indulgent New Orleans understood its losing bargain with a devil's fate.
But we ought to at least recognize that our increasingly tough First World problems--terrorism, viruses, the rising incidence of powerful natural disasters--are being addressed by a public sector that too often is coming to resemble a Third World that can't execute….”
--- Daniel Henniger
Bureaucratic Failure : To understand Katrina's problems, read the 9/11 report.
Karen on 09.02.05 @ 09:18 AM CST