Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Federal Government and Katrina

So, I can't take it anymore...

If you are an American taxpayer you need to be upset. Today, in the wake of hurricane Katrina, with people out of homes, looking for the basics of life, our Government is looking to form a commission to study what went wrong! You have GOT to be kidding me...

And how much will this commission cost? $10MM? $20MM? Wouldn't that money be better spent on the actual victims? All told four states experienced serious damage from Katrina...

1. Florida
2. Louisiana
3. Alabama
4. Mississippi

Of those four states, Louisiana is the only one that is having issues with the Federal Government response. I would bet that they are getting most of the resources right now because they are the proverbial "Squeaky Wheel".

Today I heard a quote from Nancy Pelosi where she is quoted as saying something to the effect that (I'm paraphrasing here) the President needs only to look in the mirror to see where the problem is. Really? FEMA has been doing a great job in the other three states. The problem is not with FEMA, nor the Federal Government on this one. Nancy, the persons that need to look in the mirror are the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor of the state of Louisiana...

Let's not WASTE more money on another commission that will only try to point blame at the President. What good will that do for the people affected by Katrina? Who's pockets will get lined?

As a Taxpayer, I would like my money back so I can give it to the Red Cross, the United Way, or some other Charity that is actually interested in helping the people.

End of Ramble.


ProgressiveFuture said...

What about the cost of not investigating what has become a glaring issue. The reality is that management of a catastrophy of this scale is a federal issue. Once the Governor asked for and received a federal state of emergency mandate, this was in FEMA's hands.

As eloquently stated by Salon's Katharine Mieszkowski,

"...somehow the Bush inner circle has managed to turn questions about the federal response to Katrina into an insinuation that even asking the questions is somehow delaying the response. It's as if demanding to know why so many people were abandoned for days keeps doctors from getting to the sick, and food from getting to the hungry"

Keep in mind that FEMA is our response mechanism for Natural as well as man made disasters. If the incident in New Orleans had been a terror attack, the response would have been the same, meaning that Federal support (communications, Haz/mat, medical help, fire fighting, food/water, riot control) did not get into the city until in some cases a full week later. This is only more glaring because it was a natural disaster that has been foreseen for years (plenty of time to draw up plans) and forecasted for a week (plenty of time to implement plans). Yet there was a hospital ship leaving Baltimore four days after the hurricane; that in addition to a shortage of helicopters, and insufficient emergency evacuation transportation.

It is fairly obvious that FEMA was not prepared to deal with the enormity of this diaster. I do not mean that they could have prevented it. I mean that in the years leading up to this disaster, our government's ability to cope with a disaster of this magnitude has been sapped. Political appointments, budget cuts to key activities, resource drain from foreign conflict, and overall mismangement are all partly to blame. It is the responsibility of someone (i.e. government) to determine what went wrong, so that the relevant issues can be fixed, so that our response to an emergency in the future is better.

Ordinary Guy said...

Good comments, however I have to say that since when, in this democratic republic of ours, do we have to depend on our Federal government to take care of us?

We are a republic of states. Each municipality has the responsiblity to maintain the order of the area for which it is charged. The City, State, then Federal government. The City did not follow it's own disaster plan. The State acted very late. FEMA was not going to put its people in harm's way (there was looting and Anarchy in downtown NOLA). Also they concentrated on rescuing those who wanted to be rescued. So, in effect, FEMA was there as soon as possible, trying to get people out.

Why did it take so long for the City and State to act on their own plans? Why spend our tax dollars researching what the Federal government should have done better when we could a) use those dollars to help the needy, and b) look to why the city and state did not follow thier own disaster prepardness plans.

The problem here is that we, as a country, look towards the Federal government to solve all of our problems, when, in reality, we need to look first in the mirror.

ProgressiveFuture said...

I generally do not believe in a federal government that operates at a minimum. But even if you follow that line of logic, than national defense should fall in that category. Disaster Recovery should fall under this umbrella as the weakining of a large area of this country through resource diversion (manpower, emergency equipment, rations, economic, etc) would affect our ability to defend our selves.

More importantly though, I differ philosophically in a minimalist approach to federal government. I think it is good government for the federal level to assume responsibility for those tasks it can do more cost effectively. Disaster recovery falls perfectly into this category. If all states had to maintain the infrastructure to handle a natural (or manmade) disaster, it would be extremely costly, especially considering the actual risk of occurence is quite low. If the federal government maintains this apparatus, they could localize quick response units regionally and still maintain a much lower total inventory of emergency response apparatus. Emergency plans should of course incorporate local people and resources where possible (police and hospitals), but these plans and expertise should be developed nationally to leverage the similarities of plans across states.

I understand that the conservative philosophy of government to to restrict the federal reach, which is exactly what has occured over the last four years regarding emergency preparedness in Lousiana. Army core of engineers Municipality flood prevention (Levy renovation) have received cuts in federal spending over the past couple of years, presumably with the assumption that the state should pick up the slack. Unfortuneately, Louisiana one of the poorest states in the country. This is despite one third of the energy economy changing hands there and the largest port in the US residing there. This only goes to show the interconnectedness between the states. The impact of this disaster is not limited to 'a' state. It is a national disaster of national impact. Hence it should be a federal agency which expedites its recovery.

Ordinary Guy said...

Let me ask this question...

If you loose your job, or your income is affected, do you just through your arms up in the air and say 'well, I guess I'll just wait it out', or do you look for another job?

In this case the "poorest state in the nation", Louisiana does have some capability to increase it's revenue by taxing the port differently as well as the companies that operate there (Oil producing) so avenues are / were available to them. Why did they not exercise them? Blaming the federal government is like saying "I lost my job and mom and dad won't take care of me". That is no excuse.

You know you have problems (reported all over the NOLA web site prior to Katrina) but did nothing about it... That is just mis management. Who manages this? The city, county (parish), and state... Not the Federal government.

Yes, the Federal government agencies should be there to help for a disaster, and they were / are. However, they cannot be expected to micro manage the facilities and capabilities of all municpalities in the US. This is the responsibility of the local government, which failed here.

-End of Ramble

Lucid Guy said...

The American people have forgotten how to take care of themselves. It is a characteristic of Communism and Socialism to believe that the government should take care of you. Sure FEMA and other agencies should step in the assist with disaters, but some personal responsibility and accountability has to take place. The fact the Floridians banded together to help each other after 4 hurricanes last year and a large group of New Orleans citizens waited for the opportunity to loot shows the moral compass of that city. Don't even tell me that they were looting for food. The looting started as soon as the storm passed and the last time I checked electronic and jewlery stores didn't sell food.
When most American cities flood the water receeds. When Lousiana floods the water runs to New Orleans. I do not believe we should throw good money after bad by rebuilding the ENTIRE city. Some hard decisions need to be made.