Democrats & Liberals Archives

It's Troublesome, I'm Afraid

Life is tough. People know this. It’s not some big secret that things don’t go as planned. It’s not like we don’t deal, day in and day out, with unpleasant, negative, and troublesome things. To hear our politicians tell it, though, their lives are perfect.

If only it wasn’t for all those troublesome things that keep intruding.

Many have forgotten, that in the initial furor over Katrina, the main point of contention was the time it was taking for any kind of response to get into the city. Bush's most damaging failure, image-wise, had nothing to do with subsequent revelations, but on the basic practical inability of the administration to sit down and take care of the problem. Four or five days after the storm, the response was still only beginning. A day or two could have been excused. But the better part of a week? We had to be capable of better than that.

The Republican response was to blame big government, lash out at the media, spread the blame to local officials, and do everything and anything to avoid that ultimate question: Can't we do better than this? Well, I think we can, because we have. We responded pretty damn quickly to 9/11. Why was Katrina different? Time of crisis, American get's it's collective keister in gear.

One problem is that the GOP thinks this shouldn't be its responsiblity. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy: Federal government shouldn't be involved in these matters becomes We're not going to write policy like that. We don't write policy like that becomes the policy isn't in place to make sure things go smoothly in big operations like this. That becomes, in turn, a sluggish, red-tape clogged response which confirms for the hardcore Republicans, of course, that this is not a job for big government.

FEMA, which had previously had an excellent record of service, was tossed by Bush into his ad hoc Department of Homeland security, and was buried four levels down in the bureaucracy, where it once reported directly to the President. He filled it with big contributors to his campaign, where under it's predecessor it had been staffed by professionals. Under Bush, the FEMA that had drawn praise for its response under Clinton has become so screwed up that a bipartisan report recommended it's abolition.

This sort of decline doesn't get mentioned by Right-Wing pundits. If they started looking at trends, many of them might tell them that things have gotten worse not better under Republican governance. Why? Because Republicans don't want to govern. They want to hold power. They tell their voters that they're going to keep the power to grow government out of the hands of Democrats. They grow it anyways, much in defense, but a great deal in other areas, to. They criticize Democrats over the entitlement programs, yet spend hundreds of billions to create one.

Why this behavior? Because America is not as conservative as the government they elected, and these people know it. Why else engage in basically liberal behavior, despite all the rhetoric? Of course, they don't stop being conservatives, or having a conservative base, so they stretch on out to the other side of things, like a cartoon character on crack, and appease their supporters with budget cuts, limitations, and continual attempts to dump things on the states. So, balancing all these conflicting policy decisions, Republicans get to fulfill their own prophecy, making big government fail to work. How can it possibly work, when they ask it to do so much, yet allow it to do so little?

Twelve years of this kind of all-over-the-map policy philosophy have created a government unable to do its job, even in places where most Americans to the left or the right agree that government should function well. Six years of this president have not helped matters, as this president cannot even be counted on to fully execute the law where his political attitudes depart from everybody elses.

I think the Left's attitude is pretty simple, amongst voters and and among most of our politicians: government doesn't have to big to be wasteful, or small to work well, but whatever its size, whatever it's expense, it should do its job impeccably. If a government doesn't work, it could be smaller than the head of a pin, and it'd still be a waste of taxpayer dollars. Unlike the Republicans, we have no problem with the Government doing a job, when it's well positioned to do it well. We have no problem with regulatory agencies laying down regulations, and are open to keeping those regulations sensible and within reasonable limits. Despite what our strident, irrational friends on the other side of the aisle might insist, we have no intention of taxing Americans to death, but as the heirs of Clinton's legacy of sensible fiscal pollicy, we are not afraid to do what it takes to make America's government solvent again.

The Republicans have great cause to fear if America's government starts to work again, and do the will of the people. If they let that happen, it might make it hard to scare people into destroying that government further. The Democrats have no such cause to hesitate, no such cause to let the dysfunctional status quo remain. We can and we will get America's government back on its feet and workiing for the people, and that is why we will win in 2006 and 2008.

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at June 12, 2006 2:40 PM
Comments
Comment #156835

As a former resident of and frequent visitor to New Orleans, Katrina as political issue riles me up without end. The fact of the matter is that no one, Federal, State or Local stepped up and lead. The bureaucracy blamed itself for it’s own ineptitude. It was and is the greatest American Failure ever. For a complete, non-partisan look at the Katrina disaster and the horrible response, read Chris Rose. He is a New Orleans Times-Picayune writer who has the most insightful, poignant, funny, heart-wrenching look at what has become of this great city.

Posted by: David S at June 12, 2006 4:41 PM
Comment #156875

Stephen,

Did you run out of new events to talk about? This is the same recycled critique of Katrina that you offered at the time it happened. Don’t disagree with all of your point, but I wonder what discussion you will get out of an article you’ve copied and pasted from five of your articles over the past six months.

Like so many greatest hits CD’s, it seems like a cheap way to generate new revenue without doing any more work. I’ve agreed and disagreed with you on various issues; in the process, I’ve come to expect something more thoughtful and thought provoking.

Posted by: Rob at June 12, 2006 6:13 PM
Comment #156887

Steven,

Good post. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said

Republicans don’t want to govern. They want to hold power.
It’s something I’ve thought about off and on for the last decade. Republicans are more interested in acquiring and maintaining power than they are in actually using that power. They constantly tell everyone that they oppose big government, so when they actually get their hands on the reigns, they don’t know what to do. The result is a series of inept mistakes, leading to a crisis in confidence in the Republicans. Their polls are at an all time low.

What the Republicans have been VERY good at, though, is placing the blame (funny that the party of self reliance has turned into the party of finger-pointing and plausible denial, eh?). So we’ve reached a point where the federal government is dysfunctional. Americans don’t trust their government, but ironically it’s not because of Republican propaganda but because Americans don’t trust the Republicans.

So the Republicans’ biggest problem isn’t only that they’re so inept at actually governing, it’s that the public isn’t buying their finger-pointing.

Posted by: ElliottBay at June 12, 2006 6:40 PM
Comment #156897

You know, it’s not Republicans who are the problem, it’s this bunch of yahoos who have come to power within the last 10-15 years. Many of them are from my generation and they just don’t seem to have any sense of statesmanship or any appreciation for the value of government. They seem to be hellbent on destroying parts of the government they find inconvenient to their moneymaking schemes, to reduce taxes on the rich to the point that their marginal rate is actually lower than that of the working class, and to basically ignore the other parts of governing that are inconvenient or difficult. You used to be able to count on Republicans to at least balance the books and push for efficiency and responsibility. Now they just root around for wedge issues and spend like drunken sailors to fatten their private coffers at the expense of the public. Go figure.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at June 12, 2006 7:08 PM
Comment #156900

Stephen,

Excellent article as usual. I’m just not sure that you’re right when you say, “America is not as conservative as the government they elected”.

I’ve read a few independents and even conservatives at WB criticize Bush for being too liberal I’ve always blown it off mostly due to Medicare part D program but recently I’ve thought just how badly Bush & Co. have bloated the budget with added bureaucracy.

After all, why did FEMA have it’s worse failure ever? IMO because it had been minimalized by the creation of the Dept. of Homeland Security! The only reason to create that agency was to cover up the failures of Condi Rice as head of National Security.

Everyone loves to call for Rummy’s head on a platter, well why the hell not Condi’s? This whole damn administration has been a failure from A to Z!

Watching George Stephenopolous this weekend the “red vs. blue” argument involved two “unkowns” to me but the Republican made sure to close with words similar to, “Democrats are for higher taxes and bigger government! Holy crap! How can they say that after this administration? Ok, they,ve managed to divert the debt to unborn generations at a rate that’s shocking, but “Holy Crap”, to try and paint us as “big government” is ridiculous.

It’s time to paint the current GOOP as just what they are: HUGE government that’s all in favor of the large corporations and just enough of a “snippet” to satisfy the “Religious Right”.

My final statement has to be: “Democrats are the new conservatives”! Well, we’re more conservative than the Republicans at this point anyway. We do want to “conserve” the US Constitution and we do want to “conserve” religious freedom here in the states.

I’d accept an argument from a Libertarion as possibly being more conservative, but as things stand today the Republican parties only claim to “conservatism” rests with the likes of Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh!

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at June 12, 2006 7:22 PM
Comment #156930

“A day or two could have been excused. But the better part of a week? We had to be capable of better than that.”

Don’t you understand that this was a very unique situation? It wasn’t you’re average hurricane, and it hit the bulls eye (New Orleans). Katrina was the perfect storm. Frankly, I was impressed by the response, all things considered.

Are you suggesting that the government held back help? That’s just ridiculous. I don’t buy it.


Posted by: Ed at June 12, 2006 8:22 PM
Comment #156931

Rob-
I think it’s sometimes good to take a step back and examine things. Here, I am pointing out what I think is the hallmark tendency of the Republican party at this point in time: a rather inpenetrable fatalism about the dysfunction of government, combined with the lack of political werewithal or will to cut off what they view as dysfunctional.

To put it plainly, Bush and other Republicans don’t believe that government can do things right. They try and mollify their base by doing spending cuts and with half-hearted efforts to distribute functions to the states. These are rarely coordinated or complete efforts, so you’re left with our system in pieces, waiting for the next problem to test the system to destruction. Katrina was just such a test, which is why I chose something that wasn’t recent news.

One of the reasons that these efforts are often halting and incomplete is that while many Americans buy the notions of conservative in principle, in practice it’s a different matter. Were conservatives brave enough, they could tell people they’re cutting things right off. What they fear is that then, they’d be cut off themselves. So, they sneak around, attaching riders to bills, quietly killing certain investigations and regulations, and other kinds of mischief. Sooner or later, our agencies become like those cars you see in comedy films which get ten yard before the vehicle falls to pieces. Usually, the gag in that is the cruel joke it is with us: that our government falls apart right when we need it.

We see this tendency in the Iraq policy. We see this in the fiscal policy. We see this in defense procurement. We see this in the prevalence of lobbyists, and the complication of a tax code which is probably more full of little tax breaks for the rich and for Corporate America than it is about details for the average person. We see it in an IRS that audits poor people over their EITC more than they audit the more costly tax evasions of the rich and the business world.

All in all, my argument is that we need to change parties in this country for no other reason than the other party actually takes government more seriously.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 12, 2006 8:23 PM
Comment #156949

We should have had some kind of plan, some kind of worse case scenario in mind. We shouldn’t be caught by surprise even by something this big. We’ve been hit by these things before, rare as they are.

Ultimately, what I have been suggesting is not that these people committed the near suicidal political sin of holding back during a disaster, rather, they failed to consider the needs of the job before hand, failed to take a practical, long-term view of agency needs, rather than a short term, partisan perspective. One example is the expectation that the states would shoulder more of a burden in these events. Fine, but did they make sure that the states had the equipment, the funding, and the other needs before they threw states and major cities in the deep end to sink or swim?

I remember a time not long ago when there was this sense that Government had responsibilities, that this burden came with the job. Instead, people are always inventing reasons why they’re not responsible, why it isn’t their job.

I mean, your could have held up, were it not for the fact that many federal officials were not even aware of the humanitarian crisis in the Superdome and the Convention center. How do you miss things like this?

I think when the time came, they didn’t have the preparations or the situational awareness set up to allow them to do their job, and that once they were aware of how deep the crap they were in was, they worked to take care of their image rather than take care of the realities.

Unfortunately for them, Americans are running out of patience. If it doesn’t run out entirely with this election, the next one will be where it really hits the fan.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 12, 2006 9:12 PM
Comment #156989

Ed
Aftr the San Francisco quake in 1906 the federal government responded within hours. That with no airplanes or helocoptors. Face it Stephan is right.
I do have to admit that FEMA has lond been a bunch of boobs. An area near where I live had some flooding and a large landslide. FEMA showed up and were pretty much worthless. Then the vice-president of the US showed up,Al Gore. It was a miracle how fast they got to work. Its called leadership and Bush just does not have it.

Posted by: BillS at June 12, 2006 10:27 PM
Comment #157015

Ed, actually the bullseye hit Mississippi. New Orleans got the weak side of the storm. New Orlean’s was a soup bowl waiting to be filled. Flooding isn’t unique in Louisiana. Most of the state is a swamp.

Steven, I hope you continue to bring this up. ABC’s Cokie Roberts has been to New Orleans, Pakistan and Indonesia. She stated that Pakistan and Indonesia have both begun to shape up nicely, cleaned up and begun their way back. Not New Orleans. I have friends who have been there and complain nothing is hapening. Large Federal contracts have been awarded and little has been done for the money.

Homeland Security is a bureaucratic nightmare born by both the Democrats and Republicans. It solves nothing about security, wastes tons of dollars, will never go away, destroyed FEMA. Abolish it now. What has it solved? What has it done besides waste money? It’s another earmarked pork barrel.

Posted by: gergle at June 12, 2006 11:14 PM
Comment #157032

“Then the vice-president of the US showed up,Al Gore. It was a miracle how fast they got to work. Its called leadership and Bush just does not have it.”

Damn straight. I know that the Governor of Louisiana stood in the way of getting the National Guard in at one point. Well, duh, if Bush could work around FISA who do you think would have complained if he’d made a public announcement that the feds were taking over?

The only difference in his reaction to Katrina and his reaction to 9-11 is the lack of “My Pet Goat”. Then again he may still being trying to finish reading the book.

KansasDem

Posted by: KansasDem at June 12, 2006 11:44 PM
Comment #157040

Ed you’ve gotta be kidding right? The modern Republican party hates government. They don’t study it, they don’t believe it can be a force for good in people’s lives. They simply want to shrink to a size they can drown in the bathtub. They are running up huge deficits and screwing up every aspect of it they can to hasten the day when their social darwinist nightmare of a USA with no safety net becomes a fait accompli. Their mantra will be “we tried that, it didn’t work and there’s no more money to try again anyway”.

Posted by: markg8 at June 13, 2006 12:00 AM
Comment #157048

What an odd concept: elected officials are elected to be responsible, not to be powerful. Sigh. Neither leadership nor statesmanship seem to be a part of this era. The critical functions of government are handed out like party favors, as honorary titles rather than than responsibilities. I think this is called not being professional, and may be stupid in some cases, but is virtually criminal in cases like FEMA.

I have come to the conclusion that those of us who read and participate here are not at all typical, and this even includes the trolls. We care. (Some one way and some another, but we communicate about our thoughts.)

The confounding aspect of the political scene today is that although some of us are passionate about the disasters we see that the current government has created (or failed to respond to), the percentage of possible voters who become actual voters seems to keep declining.

Is the incompetence and dysfunction of the government leading people to tune out instead of get pissed?

Posted by: dana at June 13, 2006 12:25 AM
Comment #157058

If you are living in a city that is BELOW SEA LEVEL, and a Cat 5 hurricane is bearing down on you, and you don’t TAKE ANY ACTION TO SAVE YOURSELF, and instead wait on the government, any government, run by any party, to save you, you are a candidate for a Darwin Award.

Nature is an unforgiving judge, and the penalty for sloth and stupidity is quite harsh. Always has been, always will be.

Bitch all you want. I know several people who came to Dallas BEFORE the hurricane, and although the aftermath has been difficult, and FEMA and all the governments (federal, state & local) have screwed up royally during the recovery, they were safe. They stayed, got jobs, a few recently went back, a couple are staying for good. They took responsibility for themselves, survived, and are starting to prosper. These are the kind of people who made America great.

Posted by: David C. at June 13, 2006 1:27 AM
Comment #157076

Stephen, the heart of the matter is, Republicans have never held themselves to an accomplishable list of priorities which the majority of the public could endorse. They used such a list for rhetorical purposes to acquire power, but, having achieved it, they promptly set about to taking care of their own business, and lost sight of the people’s business.

Bush went off for revenge on Saddam for having sponsored an assasination attempt on his father, Cheney went off to cement favorable legislation for the corporations he and his friends and family are invested in, Rumsfeld went off to create a surgical rapid strike military force incapable of dealing with prolonged entrenched warfare in a place like Afghanistan or Iraq. The Homeland Defense team promptly went off to Congress and the Media to disguise the highly profitable lack of border security behind the guise of pumping stories of terrorists over there instead of here.
Think about it. How absolutely incredible is it that this Republican government took not one single step toward securing our borders after 9/11 for almost 5 years?

The people’s business was never their business. And your article is quite right on this matter.

Posted by: David R. Remer at June 13, 2006 2:12 AM
Comment #157102

Stephen Daugherty -

I’d like to thank you for summarising very effectively what I have been thinking about the U.S government for some time.

It is important that people realise that this government, behind all their rhetoric, is not promoting the interests of the people but the interests of the elite.

Bush, and his fellow republicans, are using every tool available to them to create a totalitarian state out of this supposed free democracy. Not through physical violence, but through creating a nation of people that believe everything they are told whilst promoting emotional, illogical debate over logical, rational debate.

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” —Thomas Jefferson to Charles Yancey, 1816. ME 14:384

Posted by: The Fly at June 13, 2006 6:01 AM
Comment #157139

You mean that our gov. dropped the ball on something. In the last six years I feel that the ball has been dropped at least once a day by the current admin. One of the only ways I see to solve this promblem is to get out and your party in the next elections in your area.
Make people understand that not doing something is making a choice. We have to get out of office those that see it as there personal playgrounds.

Posted by: bloodstone1975 at June 13, 2006 9:38 AM
Comment #157153

Good ol George Bush is in Iraq today to show support for the new Iraqi Government.Whats that old saying You Cant Keep aGood Man Down?You libs have got to Pay attention this is What a Great leader does.

Posted by: lookingout at June 13, 2006 10:16 AM
Comment #157175

David C.-
You’re not using your imagination. Waiting on the government to pull you out after the storm is the last thing I’d recommend to people. Evacuation is what I would have had people do. But what if things don’t go as planned?

You can talk about the people who make this country great, and I’m sure some of them do, but this isn’t about initiative, because even with that, the unfortunate and unforseen can happen.

Let’s talk about folks who took the initiative. Namely, the people who rushed to get out of the Galveston/Houston area as Rita approached.

Trouble is, everybody rushed at once. You can argue how much brains these people had, but the fact is, for hundreds of miles, the freeways were clogged, and nobody was moving.

As the storm strengthened, the path of destruction seemed to become more and more of a threat to people in my area. Typically, in my neck of the woods, the hurricane doesn’t arrive with so much strength as it hits the coast with.

I remember bringing in all the loose objects into the house. I remember standing outside and seeing the clouds swirl overhead. I remember the relief as Rita weakened arced eastward, and we got no more than a glancing blow. Had it stayed at its original course and strength, it might have been a repeat of the 1900 storm for Galveston, and we in the suburbs might have seen winds near the limit of what our houses were built to take.

So what then? that pseudo-Darwinist attitude that forgets that Humans have survived for tens of thousands of years by sticking together? Sometimes, it’s just bad luck that you end up in the path of one of these things. Other times, as with the less mobile folks in New Orleans, you really have no choice but to depend on your Government

What then? Bad luck, both of the moment and of your situation in life, can put you in harms way. Or, as what happened more that five years ago, the bad luck can strike a population in general.

New Orleans is not the only city to suffer an inundation. Houston did in 2001, and it was pretty damaging. Typically, most storms ride their own winds inland and weaken. Not Tropical Storm Allison. Now, you wouldn’t have thought to evacuate the city on the basis of this Tropical storm, and you would have expected the worse to be a few downed powerlines and fences, flooding in those areas close to rivers, creeks and bayous.

Things went further than that, though. A mess of interacting fronts and systems stalled Allison above us and dunked the city in heavy tropical rains for an extended period. It was an unholy mess, and nobody could have predicted it. Do your Psuedo-Darwinist principles justify the nonintervention of government then?

What about an 8.0 on the San Andreas, taking down LA or San Fransisco? There’s no evacuation then. How about a volcanic eruption along the cascades, with massive mudflows, ashfalls, and/or pyroclastic clouds?

Or worst of worse cases, the New Madrid Fault lets go under the Midwest, causing the same kind of widespread seismic event that literally remade the Mississippi River valley, even changing the course of the river. Unfortunately for us, the Midwest that was mostly deserted in the time of the original New Madrid sequence of 1811-1812 is now populated with millions of people.

It might be fair to accuse some of the Katrina victims of playing the race card to excess, but I think the same goes for some of the apologists for the Bush administration’s dismal performance, with the welfare-queen rhetoric excuse for why the Bush administration people found themselves in this situation.

Truth is, though, the failure was more widespread than that, and the victims in NOLA only the most visible. When you got Andersen Cooper fuming to Governor Blanco about rats chewing on a corpse in Slidell, you can’t simply claim it’s the stupidity of those who stayed in the bowl. This was a multi-state effort beyond the capability of state and municipal authorities to take care of by themselves, at least without coordination.

Besides, why are we drawing the line here? If the predictions about the North Atlantic Oscillation are what they’re cracked up to be, Katrina is a sign of things to come, in terms of the strength of the storms we face. Now you can deride the Gulf Coast for its stupidity at placing themselves in harm’s way, or you can recognize that another area of the country which was once less densely populated now stands at risk, and if we don’t plan for disasters the size of Katrina, we will find ourselves hit again and again with humanitarian disasters and expensive economic setbacks.

Moreover, if we are ever hit with an overwhelming terrorist attack, this laissez faire attitude could serve to amplify the loss of life the terrorists inflict on us. There are any number of dams, chemical leaks and other acts of sabotage that could put thousands if not millions in the path of a man-made disaster. Or they could succeed in using a nuclear or radiological weapon on one of our cities. If we can’t deal with an overwhelming natural disaster like Katrina, other natural disasters and manmade ones will become greater setbacks and tragedies.

You folks are taking the politics of the culture war too far. We cannot afford this kind of throwaway attitude towards cities and populations, because there are few of us who are truly exempt from the threats posed here. A failure of compassion here could deny us the help we need one day. A failure to hold people responsible here could kill thousands elsewhere, as the failure to live up to folks responsibilities killed thousands in New Orleans.

To date the official count on Katrina is 1,836 dead. The last Hurricane that killed so many people was the 1928 Okeechobee hurricane. It is the costliest Atlantic Hurricane in history. The only disasters of comparable death toll in recent times are the 1995 Chicago Heat Wave and the 1980 Heat Wave Most of the other disasters of this magnitude occured either in the earlier part of the last century, or in the 1800s. I think it’s a legitimate question to ask how this could happen in this day and age, even with a disaster so extraordinary as Katrina.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 13, 2006 11:15 AM
Comment #157178


Lookingout: You dance masterfully to the neocon theme song. That new and revised version of the Goose Step.

I can’t help but think that this is all deliberate. Any party that comes into power and wants to rid the Sociocapitalist economy of the social aspect that is popular with the American people, cannot do so by direct assult. But, if you make war stupidly, spend excessively and give tax breaks to the wealthy indiscriminately, you can achieve your ultimate goal through bankrupcy.

If the republicans can point the finger at liberals and blame them and Bill Clinton for just one more election cycle, I believe they may be able to achieve their ultimate goal. This country could possibly go bankrupt. Which would probably lead to civil insurection. Which in turn, could cause the neocons to have to declare martial law and take over the country for the good of the people.

Posted by: jlw at June 13, 2006 11:16 AM
Comment #157183

lookingout-
Abraham Lincoln was a great leader. Teddy Roosevelt was a great leader. Eisenhower was a great leader. Reagan was a great leader. Bush? Bush is the great leader to those who simply want to contradict his liberal critics no matter what. Bush has managed to screw up so many things on a regular basis that to consider him great is to lower the bar almost to the floor on what greatness is.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 13, 2006 11:29 AM
Comment #157194

One reason why New Orleans is not shaping up.

A first hand experience that happened last fall. I had been working for a smaller Telecom installation company that was lured away from their local markets by a larger local contractor in Louisianna, to do post Katrina communications repair. There was a contractual promise of a set
rate for a certain number of hours. For three months our 120 person team worked toward repairing telephone and internet connections
in an area just outside of New Orleans. During this time our 120 people lived in tents and trailers, worked mandated 12 hour,7 day a week schedules. There were in fact thousands helping in different areas of disaster recovery. As it turned out, FEMA held back on payments to the prime contractor, who in turn, passed that on to its subcontractors. Insurance companies were not freeing up funds and, many workers quit when they realized that they may never be paid.

Many repair and reconstruction centric companies are being sued by workers for tens of millions of dollars in unpaid compensation. Compensation that was promised by FEMA, and never delivered. Some of these companies are forever ruined, some may bounce back.
The mishandling of compensation, even compensation adequate to sustain work, has left a very bad taste in many workers mouths, and the majority of them will not risk returning for additional work.

As I understand it, things have changes somewhat since November, but there was about a 6 month lapse in productivity due to mismanagment.



Posted by: DOC at June 13, 2006 11:48 AM
Comment #157200

Doc, I agree FEMA did worse than nothing, they created a lot of the disincentives. The insurance industry scams are another.

Posted by: gergle at June 13, 2006 11:56 AM
Comment #157203

Imagine this.Al Gore starring as the President of the United States of America.As Vice President Harry Reid.Playing the part of Secretary of State Al Sharpton.Secretary of Defence The great war hero Wesley Clarke.The Speaker of the House Nancy Polosi.The movie will be called THE MOTHER OF ALL NIGHTMARES.This is not beyond the realm of possibilities in the minds of liberal democrats.These people beleive that they will take the senate and house in November.Iran is praying for this to happen so is Usama Bin-laden as is Sadam.The Dems even tell illegals to vote in elections which is a felony to do so.It is up to the people who beleive in the United States of America to watch your polling place and make sure illegals are not permitted to vote illegally.This issue will be blown off by the liberal media as every thing important to this country is.

Posted by: lookingout at June 13, 2006 12:05 PM
Comment #157204

Looking at things objectively it is my observation
you are all wrong. Democrats and Republicans are
pretty much the same. The only thing that is
different is where you get your money from and
how you grease your palms. Bush is wildly insane
after 9/11 and desparately wants to continue to
enjoy the same unchecked power he had in the year after 9/11.

We need a true third party, one socially
intelligent and fiscally conservative. No such
option is currently available for US voters.


Posted by: weaver_chef at June 13, 2006 12:06 PM
Comment #157209

Stephen Bill Clinton would have handled Katrina differantly.He would have been there a little sooner than bush with all his aides and followers.What effect do you think a bighead like Clinton would have had on the people holding on for dear life?Ithink they would have much rather seen the national gaurd.By staying out of the way of the rescue efforts George Bush showed again his great leadership abilities.Some local politicians used the National gaurd to help with personal matters during the crisis.Like the Rep. who commandeered A national gaurd truck and national gaurdsmen to retreave 100,000 Dollars in a freezer from his home.This Democrat Representitive Will for sure be doing prison time in the near future.Its not the Governments Job to baby set local leaders in time of crisis.So put the blame where blame is due.The Governer and without a doubt the mayer who had NO EVACUATION PLAN!i REPEAT HE HAD NO EVACUATION PLAN.tHESE LEADERS ARE BOTH DEMOCRAT.THE BLIND LEADING THE BLIND SYNDROME.

Posted by: lookingout at June 13, 2006 12:30 PM
Comment #157213

lookingout-
I define the last six years as a nightmare: The bloodiest war we’ve had in a generation, no end in sight. America’s reputation in the toilet abroad with American diplomacy struggling under the weight of an administration that’s too arrogant and unilateral to make it work. The Enron collapse. 9/11. Katrina. Abu Ghraib. The steady erosion of civil liberties and the violation of the separation of power by this president. Maybe what you consider a nightmare, I consider waking up to a brighter future. All except the part about Al Sharpton being secretary of state. What made you pick him?

As for what Osama or anybody else prays for, they can kiss my ass. If they try any funny stuff with us we’ll kick their asses. Democrats have started and fought more wars than your people have, and you know it. At least we won’t repeat the mistakes of the past like your president heedlessly did.

As for illegal aliens, what exactly has YOUR president been doing about securing the borders, before illegal immigration became such a hot topic? Oh, that’s right, defending America requires what we fight them over there, rather than over here. Your president’s been neglecting the homefront for five years now, and Katrina is one piece of evidence of how badly he’s fallen down on the job.

And what the hell is up with this Guest-worker idea? All that’s done for Europe is create disgruntled immigrant populations. It’s not for nothing that the people who hijacked those planes on 9/11 were called “The Hamburg Cell”.

As for the liberal media? Good heavens. THAT excuse again. When is it going to occur to you that the problem isn’t what the media is reporting, but what your politicians are giving them to report?

The illegal aliens, even if we wanted them, wouldn’t be necessary The millions of Americans pissed off at Bush and the Republicans will be the ones who give us the advantage.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 13, 2006 12:35 PM
Comment #157215

Stephen,

Ok, nice thoughtful, thought provoking response.

First off, I’ll concede that the administration made a number of huge mistakes with Katrina. I can’t recall a government mistake that was that public, lengthy, and horrible to watch. It passed the hostage rescue and Mogadishu in the first hour. The administration deserves the majority of the blame that they have received. I sat watching CNN like everybody else, screaming “do something” at the TV.

I’ll also concede that huge mistakes in planning were made in Iraq. You are absolutely right that we can do better and deserve better than the government we have.

I don’t agree though that we should give the government back to the Democrats. If all they wanted to do was run the government we have more efficiently and effectively, then I wouldn’t have any problem. However, that is not what is at stake. There are broader issues regarding the philosophy of government with which the left and the right disagree.

First among these is for what should government be responsible. There are programs that the Democrats would like to expand or create that fall squarely outside the bounds of what I believe government should be responsible. Redistribution of wealth is one. Universal Health Care is another. Most Democratic nominees have those planks directly in there platforms.

The second major disagreement is which level of government should be responsible for different programs. I and I believe most conservatives believe that services are better provided when they are developed and funded locally. I would favor redeveloping the tax code so that the majority of the funds were returned to the State in proportional blocks rather than earmarked progrmas. At the State level, I would argue the same method should be used for the local municipalities. Currently, the Fed’s direct much of the practice of America because the money for services come with rules and regulations attached that dictate not only the what but how services are to be delivered.

Third major disagreement. Liberals favor an expansion of “rights.” Kerry lost my vote when he decided that healthcare is a “right” of individuals. I could have accepted a program that increased the availability and access of healthcare for Americans (even if I believe that such a program should be done locally, not Federally); however, enumerating it as a “right” gives it a permanence that means that we must forever more fund the healthcare of all Americans, something which I know you believe in, that I don’t.

Finally, I realize that Bush has not lived up to these ideals, and I’m disappointed. As Kansas pointed out the Democrats right now do seem more conservative. I also resent several of the social policies that conservatives are trotting out right now: gay marriage, English as a national language among them. So Kansas, I may be taking your unintended advice and pulling the lever for a Libertarian this year and 2008. I hope it doesn’t come to that because I would like to be a part of a Party that stands a chance, but with choices like these, what to do?

Posted by: Rob at June 13, 2006 12:39 PM
Comment #157218

Stephen if my memory serves me right Al sharpton had more time to spew his jibberish at the democratic national convention in 2004 than did the keynote speaker!Hey partner its your party i don’t make the rules i just observe them.

Posted by: lookingout at June 13, 2006 12:43 PM
Comment #157221

lookingout-
That Democratic Rep is not exactly popular with his party at the moment. Unlike the Republicans, we don’t cover for bastards like him.

FEMA was supposed to coordinate efforts. Bush wasn’t supposed to stay out of the way, he was supposed to be involved. FEMA performed much better under Clinton. He wouldn’t have passed up the photo-ops, to be sure, but he wouldn’t have waited four or five days and then try to recover his damaged reputation with a bunch of potemkin media stunts.

Mayor Nagin did have an evacuation plan, one which ensured that most of New Orleans many residents got out safely. It was the not so mobile ones that ended up being the crimp in the plan. Though doubtlessly those officials deserve some of the blame, the fact is things won’t always go as plan.

The damaged areas in Katrina covered roughly the area of Great Britain, and crossed state lines. The hardest areas were decimate, and 75 billion dollars of damage was inflicted. This could not merely be a local effort in the areas that needed it most. The power and the authority of the Federal government was needed.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 13, 2006 12:45 PM
Comment #157227

Rob-
I don’t think we have an alternative if we want reform. The Republican Party is going to take every episode where its majority survives as permission to continue its current behavior. That is the mindset that’s taken over your party: the problem isn’t what we’re doing, it’s that we didn’t get away with it.

As far as redistribution of wealth goes, you should consider how much of it is getting redistributed to Japan and China on the basis of this deficit spending. These aren’t taxes we paid that we’re getting back, this is proceeds from selling bonds that’s going to come back at us with interest.

As for healthcare, What I would advise to those who want to avoid that, is that the private companies get together and figure out ways to properly cover the millions of American out there without continuing to overcharge, insufficiently cover, and insufficiently treat the average American. We use to have the best healthcare system in the world. Now we’re falling behind the rest of the developed world, and failing cover large segments of the population. At some point, this is going to generate enough outrage to prompt government action. If you moderate or prevent that, the private industries must get on the ball. Otherwise Socialized healthcare will be our future.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 13, 2006 1:00 PM
Comment #157228

Stephen the fact that nagin had a plan is even more serious that means he did not employ the plan.This can be called one thing and one thing only incompadence.Talking about LAZY Nagin is responsible for every death in New Orleans.By the way another Democrat This is Shameless.

Posted by: lookingout at June 13, 2006 1:03 PM
Comment #157230

O.K. stephen now we go from coming up with a plan to WE GOT TO FIGURE OUT SOMETHING SAME DOG DIFFERANT DAY.

Posted by: lookingout at June 13, 2006 1:06 PM
Comment #157239

The Liberal Democrat Patrick Kennedy Will plead Guilty to D.U.I. its getting hot for these folks.Talking about a CULTURE OF CORRUPTION!!!!!ANOTHER DEM. BITES THE DUST.

Posted by: lookingout at June 13, 2006 1:20 PM
Comment #157246

lookingout-
Nagin’s plan got most of the people out of New Orleans, and did it much better than Governor Perry did with the evacuation during Rita in Texas.

Fact is, all plans deal with elements not entirely under our control, or not entirely well understood. To count on disaster plans being entirely applicable is unrealistic. There need to be plans for what happens if for whatever reason the resource one thought was there doesn’t show up.

As for Patrick Kennedy and that Jefferson guy, let me just state it plainly: do you see any Democrats defending them, the way your people defended Tom DeLay, or any of the others? The Right is too busy hating liberals to police its own. We liberals are fully willing to force our people to face up to their responsiblities, to their misdeeds.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 13, 2006 1:30 PM
Comment #157252

nO ONE DEFENDING HIM GIVE ME A BREAK.eVER HEARD OF THE DEMOCRATIC BLACK CAUCUS?

Posted by: lookingout at June 13, 2006 1:40 PM
Comment #157284

Uh, lookingstupid, how is getting a DUI in any way related to ‘corruption’? He’s pleading guilty, as well.
Me thinks you need to consult your dictionary.
God, you ARE the most boring aspect of this forum.
Your comment about bush being a great leader by “not getting in the way” is incredibly funny. Talk about lowering the bar. Your praising him now for DOING NOTHING!

Posted by: norby at June 13, 2006 2:43 PM
Comment #157295

iDONT KNOW NORBY BABY LETS SEE YOU GET A LIFT HOME AFTER YOU WRECK A CAR WHILE YOU ARE STONED OUT OF YOUR MIND BY THE POLICE WHO SHOULD HAVE PUT YOUR ASS IN JAIL!YOU NEED TO FACE REALITY1

Posted by: lookingout at June 13, 2006 3:16 PM
Comment #157302

The culture of democrat corruption goes back to the days when PAPA kennedy being Teddy kennedy drove his car with a live body in it assumming she was still alive into a body of water and left her there to die which she did.This Monster did not call the police untill the next morning.Iwonder how much moola that cost the Kennedy Clan.Ithink its time to reopen that case and bring justice to PAPA kennedy!! What Say You Mr. Norby?

Posted by: lookingout at June 13, 2006 3:30 PM
Comment #157306

—-Looks like we forgot! In the first four years of the Bush Administration, if you may recall Florida had a Big hurricane AN REMBER the Feds had trucks full of supplies on the boarder of Georgia waiting to go into Florida which they did even before that storm subsided, Others can compare that storm with Katrina as to what standards changer from that first storm to the fatal storm of Katrina.

Posted by: DAVID at June 13, 2006 3:41 PM
Comment #157311

—Danger!Be lookingout for troll buggies under foot.

Posted by: DAVID at June 13, 2006 3:52 PM
Comment #157320

lookingout-
Those folks are defending him against his fellow Democrats.

As for Chappaquiddick, whatever. That’s your quick cheapshot because you can’t otherwise relate another Kennedy’s accident to the notion of corruption. Meanwhile, there are several ongoing probes dealing with corruption in the House of Representatives, in addition to a number of ethics complaints There have been indictments, and there have been convictions in this matter. Our guy hiding money in a freezer is bad, but we don’t act like it isn’t, and we don’t deny those things happened. The difference between a culture of corruption and one of virtue is not in that people go astray in one and not the other, but instead in the willingness of people to take action against those who do.

Question is, are you willing to take action, or are you too busy defending Republicans to make sure they’re worth defending?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 13, 2006 4:20 PM
Comment #157324

O.K. stephen havnt had enough corruption from the dems.PAPA smurfs nephew remember 20 years later convicted of well you know what this kennedy was convicted of. another fine young lady never to be heard from again.HAVE YOU HAD ENOUGH TO ADMIT THE DEMOCRAT LONG CULTURE OF CORRUPTION?

Posted by: lookingout at June 13, 2006 4:28 PM
Comment #157328

Stephen,

There is always a choice on an individual level. We are often forced to make a choice between bad and worse. The decider for me to date was not who would make the trains run on time. It was who would stand against the movement of political power away from the people and into D.C.; who would stand against a continual expansion of rights that require specific governmental action rather than the big 3 which have a broad latitude and flexibility in the way they are protected; who will stand against social re-engineering by government dictate.

History will judge Bush unkindly on all three of these elements which is my disappointment. I can abide mistakes in the administration of programs, especially when they are mistakes due to risk taking like the hostage rescue, Mogadishu, the shuttle explosions, and yes even Iraq.

History may judge Bush more kindly on his willingness to react to the terrorist threat. Kennedy survived the Bay of Pigs debacle that was the precursor to the Cuban Missle Crisis. While there are a great many polls that support him as the worst President ever, the same was true of Truman, Reagan, Clinton, Carter, and Nixon during various phases of their terms. The polls may turn out to be right this time; however, I’ll take the advice of historians and let a few years pass before we make that judgement.

The Katrina mistake was government at its worst, but most common. Government employees by their very nature are risk averse, Presidents can’t be. You never get fired in a government job for not making a decision; you do get fired for making wrong decisions. At least as a people we finally got a head to role for not making a decision, though that is small solace. We expect better from our leaders and we should.

“The changing circumstances we confront bring both risk and opportunity. Most persons are risk averse and, therefore, change averse. But success and the willingness to embrace change are closely correlated. Indeed, for those few institutions and individuals who see opportunity in change, we have a name. We call them leaders.” — President Victor E. Ferall, Jr. Beloit College President.

History will decide how Bush measures up in this regard. History has already decided how government as an institution measures up. You believe that governement can run well. I believe that it can be run better but never well. Entrenched risk aversion bred by a civil service structure that rewards doing nothing over doing something ensures it.

Posted by: Rob at June 13, 2006 4:37 PM
Comment #157329

Come on fella’s i hav’nt even broken a sweat yet.Lets talk j.f.k. and another female never heard from again anybody remember Marlyn Monroe?Fella’s lets get diggy with it.

Posted by: lookingout at June 13, 2006 4:38 PM
Comment #157355

Stephen,

lookingout for you, please stop feeding the troll - it gets your hands dirty and the troll likes it.

Posted by: CPAdams at June 13, 2006 5:49 PM
Comment #157373

Government by nature is wasteful. It always wants to expand and to do that it has to spend money. And it seem that it doesn’t care on what.
This is why the voters need to keep a close eye on government and those they elect to run it. It’s the failure of the voters to do this that has lead to the situation we have now. A huge irresponsible and very wasteful government. Full of bureaucracy run by bubbling bureaucrats that don’t know their collective asses from a hole in the ground.
And it’s not just the Republicans that have expanded government. The Democrats did a very good job of it over the 50 years they controlled congress. The Republicans have just continued what got started under the Democrats.
I hold both parties equally responsible. But I hold the voters even more responsible by not keeping a close enough eye on these rascals.

Posted by: Ron Brown at June 13, 2006 6:32 PM
Comment #157377

Steering this conversation back to Katrina, the big difference is that for days leading up to the storm we knew it would be a huge disaster. Most of the city evacuated, and many of those who didn’t, couldn’t. So, really, you should tack on three or four days to the Fed’s response, as they should have been ready to go before the storm even hit.

Bush chose instead to pray that the storm would not do much damage, and was grossly unprepared for what happened despite the repeated warnings. How much advanced notice did they have for the 1906 earthquake?

Posted by: David S at June 13, 2006 6:39 PM
Comment #157394

“LETS SEE YOU GET A LIFT HOME AFTER YOU WRECK A CAR WHILE YOU ARE STONED OUT OF YOUR MIND BY THE POLICE WHO SHOULD HAVE PUT YOUR ASS IN JAIL!YOU NEED TO FACE REALITY1”

That was the police depts. mistake.
Corruption has to do with abusing your office, in your official capacity, to do the wrong things. You know, taking bribes for legislation, etc. What you seem to be overlooking is that the legal system IS dealing with this guy, he’s pleading and getting his punishment. No cabal of democrats is claiming its just a conspiracy by the right to get him because of his religious views. No self rightcheous speaches or photo ops. He’s guilty, he admitted it. If the cops acted improperly, punish them.

Posted by: norby at June 13, 2006 7:18 PM
Comment #157399

Rob-
If you’ve ever seen Empire Strikes Back, there’s a scene where Yoda, the wise Jedi Master, chides Luke (or somebody at least) For always looking to the future, never paying attention to where he was, what he was doing.

It’s alright to take a long view on things, but actions have to be taken and judged in the short term as well. Otherwise we’re like the figure on the Tarot cards, the fool walking off the precipice reaching for the golden cup.

I’m not going to wait for the verdict of history to deal with the world of today.

lookingout-
So, gossip about the Kennedy’s is your great culture of corruption? We can do better than that: Abramoff, Cunningham, Ney, dozens of ethics complaints relating to gifts and bribes, the K Street Project, etc. We don’t need stale rumors about dead politicians and old news to make our claim. We’ve got a complex, partywide pattern of corruption laid out.

CPAdams-
He gives me the opportunity to provide rational alternatives to his philosophy. I feed trolls so I can eat them myself in turn. As long as I don’t let him drag me to his level in terms of rhetoric, he gives me the opportunity to outshine him.

Ron Brown-
I think you’re right in the respect that a government not held accountable will tend towards waste. I think, though, that this is a separate issue from the size of government. The size simply complicates the issues of reform.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 13, 2006 7:29 PM
Comment #157436

—Good case in point, The GAO just annoced FEMA over paid 1.400 Billion

Posted by: DAVID at June 13, 2006 9:49 PM
Comment #157441

Stephen
A government that’s not held accountable will grow to a size that waste is inevitable. The bigger it gets the more duplicacy there is. This is waste in itself.

I heard on the news today that FEMA has paid around $1.4 billion in phony claims. What I’d like to know is how this happened. Didn’t it check out the claims before writing checks? Or were they afraid of charges of racism if the checks did get mailed fast enough? Either way it amounts to nothing more than bureaucratic bumbling.

Posted by: Ron Brown at June 13, 2006 10:17 PM
Comment #157458

—RON- I believe the money came in the form of a credit card an doubt the cards came in different colours. One size fit all if you get my drift.

Posted by: DAVID at June 13, 2006 10:58 PM
Comment #157474

Ron Brown-
Human systems are imperfect. Imperfect systems tend to their purposes imperfectly. Imperfect action towards a goal wastes effort and resources. Therefore all human systems feature some kind of waste.

The trick with most natural and human systems is their complexity makes reduction of waste a complicated matter. What might appear to be waste reduction from a bean-counter point of view might in fact be greatly wasteful in a practical sense. An example is the FDA requirement that companies pay for their trials. This unfortunately makes the FDA dependent on the drug companies for their money, which means the FDA is less likely to raise questions about the safety of medication- a waste in light of the agency’s purpose. Efficiency in terms of operation is useless if the operation performs its purpose inefficiently.

If we can get government to turn to its purposes more efficiently, then the issues of managing operational bureaucratic waste and purpose oriented waste will overlap, and complementarily strengthen each other. If you want to get government smaller, you have to find ways to make people not miss the bureacrats. The main issue is not PC wishes not to offend people over race, it’s problems at the ground level engaging with people and verifying their situation. engage this and you’ll be better off.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 13, 2006 11:58 PM
Comment #157537

Your response was a metaphor and a simile with which I have little experience. Put your point is made. However, political leadership is mostly about the long view. When we are choosing leaders, we are making those judgements based on the fact that they will do what’s best in the long-term. There are few truly operational funcitons that politicians serve. Most of what they do is leading us toward established long-range plans or defining new ones.

Certainly the operational roles they play are important, otherwise they wouldn’t be doing them. There have been failures in these areas over the past 6 years (as there have been in the past 200, but certainly more frequent lately). However, generally, the operational roles are delegated to long-time government employees or to outside groups. If our measure of leadership is about making the trains run on time, we miss the point. 20th century, European history proved that quite well.

Posted by: Rob at June 14, 2006 8:55 AM
Comment #157644

Rob-
For the sake of academic distinctions, we often view the long term and short term as distinct. Long term thinking, though, can exist without understanding of the short term. The metaphor of the tarot card (both that I make, and which it makes), is that the fool reaches for the cup while failing to look at the ground at his feet.

The reality is, the art of proper government and business management is in the relationship between short term actions, long term plans, and the continuing development of consequences that come along. There are some who refuse to revise plans because of their vision, even as the reality strays from the vision’s course. We can be wrong with our plans, with our idea of what we should seek and why. We can also be wrong with our short term action, blind to the consequences of our immediate actions.

Awareness, both in the here and now, and over time, are a must for those who lead us.

The Republicans have shown not only a failure to maintain this awareness but also a failure to acknowledging the need for it. This is my fundamental problem with the leadership of the GOP right now. They’ve become absorbed in their own sphere of truthiness, and the concerns of people like us are not only disregarded, but even actively discouraged.

No Democracy can work if feedback from the people does not spur action. The Republicans need to spur action in their own party, whether that means punishing them, or reforming them. Given the entrenched qualities of the current crop, replacement is the primary option. Anything else will perpetuate the dysfunction.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 14, 2006 1:45 PM
Comment #157646

Of course, if you don’t like what the Democrats do, once you elect them, you can always go back to your now-chastened Republicans.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 14, 2006 1:47 PM
Comment #157760

Stephen,

Agree with some part of what you are saying, but the people are often wrong and how does that measure into the equation when you start measuring the success or failure of leadership. Success is not measured incrementally though progress can be. If you try to measure success based on incremental measures, you become the reverse of the fool on the tarot card. You walk along with you nose to the ground, walk into walls and hurt your head.

As I’ve mentioned before, I believe that government can be run better but not well. So handing over a poorly performing organization to Democrats may have the ability to raise it to a fairly performing organization, but at what cost to longer-term ideals.

I’ll make you a deal. You promise to work against universal healthcare, raising the minimum wage, and raising taxes. I’ll vote for the Democrats. That’s the choice that I and many other conservatives must deal with. We don’t buy that you (collectively) will hold up your end of the bargain.

Now, let’s pretend the shoe is on the other foot for the moment, and it’s 2012. Your choice is to replace a poorly performing leader, hard to imagine, but even worse than Bush or to keep him. His opponent wants to reduce taxes, eliminate the restored funding for stem-cell research, and readjust the poverty lines in a way that would eliminate benefits for some of the poor. What do you do?

Posted by: Rob at June 14, 2006 5:35 PM
Comment #157993

Rob-
I did say that you have to blend short term thought into a long term perspective. As for government, I don’t take a fatalistic view on how well it can be run. To do that is to potentially deny oneself room for improvement. We don’t know how well our government can function before we try, and many take advantage of pessimism to make it work even worse.

Ideals are nothing without function. You keep people like Bush in power, and nothing will get done, because people will feel it necessary to resist conservative policies and sentiments. You have to consider that perhaps by insisting on positions rather than directions of policy, you ask too much of everybody else. You guys don’t run things by yourselves, and compromise is part of the bargain.

As for the last question, I guess I have to jump out of the dilemma. I might very well vote for the Republican, while at the same time vote and advocate for votes for Democrats otherwise. It wouldn’t be the first time. After all, how else did Reagan win election?

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at June 15, 2006 8:06 AM
Comment #158060

Stephen,

I don’t think my view is fatalistic at all. I recognize the need for government, and I don’t believe that we should blow up the place. However, I do believe that it is unrealistic to expect a culture change of government employees that are at the place where the rubber meets the road. As the size of the government has increased, the government bureaucracy now has several factors working against it that will make change nearly impossible. You want government to work well, you have to commit to the following: 1) increasing the pay of government employees so that it is commesurate with the private sector; 2) increasing the risk tolerance for government officials so that it is inline with the private sector; 3) decrease the overall size of agencies and their corresponding missions so that they are inline with the public sector. To do that will take a fundamental change that seems politically unfeasible.

I contract with State Agencies. There are department heads in the Agency that I currently work for that have budgets that would place them in the Fortune 50. They are five levels below the govenor in the management chain. They are paid the equivilant of what a Wal-Mart store manager makes. That’s problem number one.

There position in the heirarchy also makes decision making subject to up to 4 levels of review and reversal. That makes for a risk averse management style. Something that is quite helpful if you are 4 levels off the CEO in a private company and responsible for the budget that is the size of a small business. Not helpful when you are responsible for overseeing the funding of Medicaid or the Department of Bridges for a state.

The third problem of decreasing the overall size and mission of the agencies is not possible without a fundamental shift in mindset from command and control policy for resources and problem solving in Washington or Boston to a more flexible, localized contol on the sight of where problems need to be solved.

As to the second paragraph, we don’t have to worry about keeping Bush in power for too much longer. I have agreed that we could do better. I’m not quite ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater yet.

For your final paragraph, I’m understanding correctly that you will accept a compromise of your basic values to ensure that the trains run on-time? While I get the point, I’m just surprised that you could hold you nose, pull the lever, and hope.

Posted by: Rob at June 15, 2006 1:04 PM
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