Sad to say, most people did not actually read the 9/11 Commission Report, leaving it to CNN or Fox News to tell them what to think about it. That’s too bad – they missed some interesting reading. It was mostly a tale of bureaucratic, government bungling. For example, Bin Ladin once got away even though the CIA knew where to find him. It turns out they squabbled with the Air Force for so long over whose budget would pay for the drone they were going to nail him with, by the time the matter was settled, Osama was long gone.
While certainly disappointing, that really should come as no surprise to anyone. These are the same folks that run everything from the IRS and Social Security Administration to Amtrack. Of course they would stop to shuffle paper and argue policy while Bin Ladin disappears over the horizon. It’s what they do best.
In the end, the story of Katrina is the same. It was federal government inefficiency, compounded by local government incompetence. Basically, it was the Social Security Administration in a joint venture with the people running the local DMV – and the public expecting them to produce rapid, effective solutions to rapidly changing problems.
FEMA did not use scores of local volunteer firemen in their initial response because the firemen had not completed the necessary Diversity and Sexual Harassment training. There is something tragically ironic about thousands of women and Africa Americans suffering and in desperate need, being left in many cases to die, because the very available and very skilled potential rescuers had not received government training in how to interact with minorities and women. That can only make sense to civil servants.
Then there is the matter of the Red Cross and the Salvation Army being johnny on the spot with food, water and supplies at the Superdome, but being turned away because the plan was to use the Superdome merely as a short term staging area. Despite the fact that the "plan" had collapsed as spectacularly as the levees, the civil servants stuck to their policy manuals.
The private sector has poured billions of dollars into the problem. In the long term, the private sector will rebuild New Orleans better then before, and employ the thousands of people displaced by the storm. The liberal whipping boys – Walmart and the pharmaceutical companies – have been at the head of the pack. Turns out that our well intentioned government has wrought more pain, suffering and misery on the populace than all of the ‘evil’ pharmaceuticals ever could.
Bill Clinton was not responsible for the government bungling of Bin Ladin any more than George Bush was responsible for the ineptitude in New Orleans. They just happened to be sitting in the big office when government demonstrated once again that it cannot do anything efficiently. That which it does well – such as the military – only happens with incredible redundancy and technology overkill.
The moral of the Katrina story should be to privatize more, cut FEMA out all together, and minimize the bureaucrats. The whole shebang ought to be subcontracted to the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and United Way, who in turn ought to contract much of it out to Walmart, McDonalds and Greyhound Bus Lines. For a fraction of the cost, most of New Orleans would have been re-outfitted, chomping on Big Macs and riding comfortably to their new homes before the storm ever hit.