Tuesday, September 06, 2005

My Faith In Government

I read a post on Slate by someone stating that the Government's ineptitude in the wake of Katrina can be construed as a breach in it's contract with the citizens.

Yeah, my faith in government is shattered all right...

Who in their right mind would put faith in the government to begin with? With that said, who but the most insane amongst us truly believes that ANY of these politicians didn't do their best, once the crisis was upon us?

Was their best good enough? Of course not. For the most part, these people are mediocre by any scale. None of them are particularly smart, they are only compassionate at times like this, and they certainly aren't very moral.

"Nagin should have had the school buses out and running." Really? Who was going to drive them? A Cat 5 hurricane is coming, you think school bus drivers are going to rally and save the day? For minimum wage?

"Blanco should have activated the militia sooner." Really? And done what with them? Move them into the storm surge or flood, just so we could have nifty footage of Humvees being swept away?

"Bush should have dropped what he was doing and gone to New Orleans." Absolutely. That's what we need right now, more political posturing.

None of these people have done enough, but not NOW. The issue, and it is true for every politician out there, is what they are doing BEFORE disaster strikes. Are they spending tax dollars wisely, bolstering our safety? Of course not. Their eyes are on the next wrung of the ladder.

Nagin should have been making plans on his first day in office. Ditto Blanco, getting the militia better prepared. We all know this, but we also know that they were too busy making public appearances, etc.

They were "doing what politicians do," which is not (nor has it ever been) "the people's business."

Have you heard your congressman/woman today? Without even knowing who you are I can tell you that your congressman is expressing some form of outrage over this, today. As you read this. They are calling for a commission to investigate, they are criticizing FEMA, they are holding themselves up as pillars of righteousness.

That's the right thing to do, particularly since the U.S. Congress is merely a spectator in this. It's not as if they play an active role in how government monies are allocated, right? And the MSM will lap it up, and give them all of the headlines they want. They will bash GW Bush, and Nagin, and Blanco, and FEMA, and the National Guard, and the Coast Guard, and anyone else they think they can spatter this crap on.

Because that's what we need right now. We need to know that Bush, Blanco, Barbour, FEMA, Nagin, and the rest of them... DID THIS ON PURPOSE. They WANTED this to happen. They hate (fill this space with your favorite socio-economic group), so they dragged their feet. The fact that Bush is a white southern male, Nagin is black, Blanco is a woman - hey, don't let that stop you.

To each their own hate-filled motive, right? Or maybe, just maybe, the Press is looking to "sell newspapers?" D'ya think?

I'm not giving anyone a get out of jail free card here, and there are some truly noble people doing a LOT of work right now (and there are even some reporters who are reporting things fairly and compassionately). I'll grant you that FEMA has screwed up by the numbers, and people are dying. The American Red Cross is tripping all over themselves. Blanco, Nagin, Barbour, Bush, NOPD, NOFD, and every other group involved have shown themselves to be inept to some greater or lesser degree.

But to say that, with the possible exception of the press-jackals who even now are feasting on the carrion of this story, anyone did it on purpose is insane. Mayor Nagin is the Mayor of Nothing today - you think he wanted that? Governors Barbour and Blanco now preside over states that are largely bankrupt sewers and hazardous waste zones. George Bush gets to visit mourners each and every day. The head of FEMA is working 24 hour days, only to have Tim Russert ask him "should you resign?"

Yeah, this is how they all wanted to spend their Labor Day Weekends.

They are politicians, people. If you truly believe that they did this on purpose you are a fool. Conversely, if you truly believe that there was a contract between them and you, ensuring that they were working tirelessly before this, getting things prepared "just in case," you are still a fool.

They are politicians, and the look at what they do the same way that you look at your own job. They do what they have to do, and little more. To give them the responsibility that we put on their shoulders - even though they ask for it - and expect them to be noble is madness.

If you owned a department store would you give the Store Manager the combination to the main vault, confident that they would "do the right thing?" Or would you give them an envelope with just enough money to run the store for that day? Would you trust them with your kid's college money, your retirement, etc., or would you be prudent and give them just enough to get things done?

Why treat the government different? Why be surprised to find that they spent your kid's college money on a really nifty "Fact Finding" trip to Africa, or to build a bridge to nowhere, or to build a "research center" in a town where there will never be private research (but they can name the building after themselves...)?

The government has demonstrated that it can build: A military that is strong enough to kill a lot of people, and thereby give those people pause before they openly attack us. Fire Departments that are good enough to rescue people most, but certainly not all, of the time (but not most buildings - those burn down). Police Departments that keep us just one step above what's happening in NOLA today. DPW's that barely keep our roads good-enough, never mind expanding/improving them.

The list of things that they CAN'T do, now or ever, is far longer than what they can.

They can't keep the borders shut, they can't keep drugs from entering our country, they can't guarantee an Ivy League education for each and every citizen (and, in fact, likely can't do as good a job via their preferred system than the private market would do with vouchers), they can't cure poverty, they can't keep people from slipping and falling, they can't cure AIDS or even run cost-effective R&D outside of nuclear weapons, and they CERTAINLY can't stop hurricanes.

To think otherwise is madness.


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