Saturday, September 03, 2005

Saturday Soapbox

So Hubba-hubba and I have been having some very interesting conversations about the role and responsibility of government, with particular reference to the response (or lack thereof) to Hurricane Katrina. While admitting that FEMA, or whatever it is they now call themselves after being folded into Homeland Security, did not do a very good job, he still believes that it is the primary responsibility of the local and state authorities to prepare and execute disaster plans. I, on the other hand, feel that that I pay taxes for FEMA and it had better get in there quickly and do what it is designed to do, which is provide relief to disaster victims.

Again, I don't think anyone disagrees that the response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans was unacceptable. However, I think it boils down to an interestingly "Republican" versus "Democrat" view.

From what I gather from Hubba-hubba's opinions as a Republican, the federal government is sort of a last resort. All the social programs should be left to the local and state governments, if they even want them. Let the states decide what they want to have, and leave the federal government out of most of it. Medicaid, Medicare, even Social Security should not be under the auspices of federal control. Bascially, laissez-faire at its most laissez.

From my Democrat point of view, the federal government should be a model of responsibility towards its citizens. We pay for the government to protect us, and protect us it should. The above-mentioned programs are good, they could use some tweaking perhaps, but the basic essence of assistance when in need remains.

I am thinking that neither model is perfect. In its desire to be all things to all people, the government has become a strange creature with multiple brains and appendages that don't always know what its other parts are doing ninety percent of the time. For the "bare bones" government, it would probably be too bare, hesitating to step in, even when needed. There would be too much self-interest involved on the state level, and leaving things mostly to the states would be disastrous, in my opinion.

So, I'm all for the complete overhauling of our system of government? Anybody got some paper and pencils? I might even be willing to make a pot of coffee for this project...


Elizabeth said...

In this case I'd have to agree with Hubba Hubba.

Who better to know the city of NO than the MAYOR of NO? Where was his sorry lazy ass in the days before Katrina. A Category 5 storm was eyeing his very vulnerable city and he evacuated people too late and did nothing for the poor.

Do you know that along with a terror strike on New York and a major earthquake in San Francisco that a Category 5 storm in NO was one of the three disasters many officials feared most? How did the mayor just sit there?

This scenario was predicted over and over again even in his own paper the Times-Picyune and he still did nothing.

What about the Govenor of LA. Where was she?

They should have been scrambling to get every resource they could from every state that would help AND from the federal government.

But since the mayor and the governor were out in left field, the federal government should have stepped in immediately. It was a complete disgrace and absolutely unnecessary for those people to be out in the sun and that chaos for 4-5 days without help.

Overhauling our government is appealing but right now I'd settle for some good, old-fashioned competence.

Gina said...

Yes, I think that in hindsight, we will find that all levels of government failed the citizens of New Orleans.

Piece of Work said...

All levels of government failed, as did politicians for the last twenty years, who failed to approve measures to improve the levees, etc. There is no one person to blame for this tragedy, it is true.
HOWEVER. Given that the mayor of NO, the governor of Louisiana, and whoever else obviously failed, and given that the whole world knew this by Tuesday evening, what in the hell is the hold up in getting help to the region? Even if you believe that states should be directing these relief efforts, when it is CLEAR TO EVERYONE that these relief efforts are not working, shouldn't the federal government help? When is the "last resort" after all? How can we claim to be prepared for a terrorist attack when a flood has killed thousands more people than one of those?