James Pinkerton has an important and insightful article
at Tech Central Station, part one of two, about the "crisis of
process." Boring as that sounds, the article deserves to be shoved
under the noses of the President, top executive-branch staff,
and each and every Congresscritter. Couldn't hurt, anyway.
[P]roblems of process inside the federal government are threatening not
only our national well-being, but also our national security. …
[We] will remind conservatives and free-marketeers, who like
to affect a nonchalant disdain of government - even when they are
running the government - of the following reality: Nobody makes you
run for elective office. But if you want to hold high office, then you
have to take that office seriously. If you are in the government, you
have to govern. And that means, either make the existing system work,
or else bring forth a better system. What you can't do is pretend that
it's someone else's problem. The buck stops with you.
Excellent point. The devil's in the details, however.
I'll quibble with the following:
Six months after Katrina, nobody will argue that FEMA handled the storm
well. The only question is: who, what, and who else is to blame?
Well, actually someone does argue that FEMA did a pretty good
job. Here's an excerpt from Popular Mechanics' take on it:
[T]he response to Hurricane Katrina was by far the largest--and
fastest-rescue effort in U.S. history, with nearly 100,000 emergency
personnel arriving on the scene within three days of the storm's
While the press focused on FEMA's shortcomings, this broad array of
local, state and national responders pulled off an extraordinary
success--especially given the huge area devastated by the storm.
Computer simulations of a Katrina-strength hurricane had estimated a
worst-case-scenario death toll of more than 60,000 people in Louisiana.
The actual number was 1077 in that state.
While it's easy to imagine that FEMA could have handled things
better (and PM mentions "Bumbling by top disaster-management
officials"—it's not as if they have their heads under a basket),
painting the problem as a "process" catastrophe
to be laid solely at FEMA's door doesn't work for me.
Similarly, when Pinkerton claims:
… Uncle Sam can't actually run the schools, but the feds can set in place
a system of carrots and sticks to make sure that kids get the education
they need—and America gets the competitive workforce it needs.
… the skeptic in me says: where's the evidence that the feds can
actually do that? (As opposed to what they claim
they can do, or
what they would like to be perceived
Where's the evidence that they won't simply be pushing
on one end of a long string, in a vain attempt to get the other end
exist, I fear.
Pinkerton points to a long string of Presidential
education promises, going back decades. He points out the
dismal lack of results. He fails, however, to draw the
straightforward conclusion. I don't get it.
But check out the article. Lots of good points.