Incompetence, watchword of the era

Lack of Cohesion Bedevils Recovery:

Three weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck, red tape and poor planning have left thousands of evacuees without basic services, according to local and state officials, public policy experts and survivors themselves.

Hundreds of thousands of people from New Orleans and Gulf Coast communities have fled, sometimes to neighboring states and beyond, moving in with friends and family or into shelters, public housing and hotels funded by the Red Cross. With little guidance from federal and state governments — and no single person or entity in charge of the overall operation — cities and counties have been left on their own to find survivors homes, schools, jobs and health care. A patchwork of policies has resulted, causing relief agencies to sometimes work at cross-purposes.

Americans deserve better.

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Author: Mitch Ratcliffe

Mitch Ratcliffe is a veteran entrepreneur, journalist and business model hacker. He operates this site, which is a collection of the blogs he's published over the years, as well as an archive of his professional publishing record. As always, this is a work in progress. Such is life.

6 thoughts on “Incompetence, watchword of the era”

  1. One disaster does not prove our need for one Orwellien government to meet all our needs and coordinate everything for us.

    You have to admit, this storm was something that comes along once in 50 years. Just about any plan would have been shredded by events. There are some things in life that just need to be worked through. And no, this does not mean I have no compassion for the victims. In a sense, the whole country has been a victim of this event and Americans have proven to be incredibley generous and caring about this.

    Remember, we have a federal system. It starts with local, then county, then state, then finally national organizations.

    Here is what happens when you expect the state to take care of all your problems for you. Low growth, fewer economic opportunties, etc.

    From the Telegraph in the UK:

    But Germany’s problems are far deeper than re-unification alone. They centre on the labour market, the role of the state and the caution of consumers. German workers are among the best paid in the world – which means, of course, among the most expensive.

    They also work some of the shortest hours and enjoy extreme protection from dismissal. The result of these “benefits” is, of course, that job creation is very weak and unemployment is shockingly high – 9 per cent, compared with 4.7 per cent in the UK.

    Meanwhile, Germany suffers from a serious case of Europe’s abiding economic disease – an overweening state: excessive regulation, high levels of government spending, an over–generous welfare system and excessive levels of taxation.

    These problems come home to roost in the weakness of consumer spending. Consumers tend to hang on to their money. Since 1997 UK retail sales have grown by more than 40 per cent and French by 20 per cent, while German sales have virtually stood still.

  2. Romeo—A once-in-a-hundred-years storm does expose the dramatic incompetence of the federal emergency response system and the widespread inequality in a region. No one is arguing for an massive government takeovers, only for smart investment in the people and their safety.

    The $200 billion that President Bush is throwing at these problems, hoping to solve his political problems instead of recognizing that FEMA has been gutted under his watch, that Homeland Security is a bureaucratic black hole and that poverty and lack of opportunity are a national and not merely a quality of the Gulf Coast, is what people are criticizing.

    In fact, the Bush approach is closer to the one you are suggesting, as it envisions a short-term governmental spend to “fix” a series of endemic problems in a region.

  3. I’m still very upset as how the goverment did not do much to save and transport people out of the city! Many poor people and those who do not own a car was pretty much trapped in the city and left to fight for themselves!

    They should of had tons of buses and vans!

  4. My concerns are not about pointing fingers at who is to blame. As mentioned earlier I think that you could not have planned and executed a plan that would have been satisfactory on all fronts in this case, but at the same time, this is a chance to see where the system is flawed and learn and grow. Throwing money at the problem may seem like a good gesture, but some serious changes in policy need to be adopted if the country is going to learn anything from this disaster, or just chalk it up to a freakish act of nature.

    Snoopy

  5. Snoopy—The problem is that there was a plan and a long-identified threat. There were mistakes on all levels, but the federal government both in general and specific (that is, where it was supposed to be providing assistance before the storm) has corralled massive powers in the last five years on the promise that it would perform better than it did. Now, Mr. Bush is trying to buy his way out with badly aimed programs that are going to “solve poverty,” at least he thinks poverty can be “solved” in the Gulf Region and not across the whole country. If we justify further cuts in social investment, like education, and domestic security, because of Katrina, the problems the Administration has created will only grow.

    So, this isn’t about blame, it’s about what’s the smart and right thing to do for Americans.

  6. I agree completely. It is unfortunate that politics always plays into these disasters. The fact that the news outlets are already playing up the fact that the Kerry Camp is attacking Bush and using this a stepping stone for the 2008 elections is just sad. The administration should be planning for what is best for the country. Instead there is a power play for votes, a lot of promises that are never followed through with, and the people that suffer are the ones that need it the most (Disaster Victims, poor people, terrorist victims). I hope that the new administration in 2008 can look beyond the politics and see what needs to be done to stop this slide into chaos. As a Canadian we have our own issues, but we always seem to follow suit sooner or later with you guys to the south. So for our sake…I hope you are leading us down the right road…:)

    Snoopy

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