Saturday, September 03, 2005

Less Gov't is Better

Fire of Liberty

As we sit in the comfort of our living rooms and watch the tragedy that has befallen the people of New Orleans and see talking heads, a hand wringing Governor and maddening mayor complaining about the relief agencies and federal forces being too slow in responding, we are reminded how inefficient that a bloated and lumbering bureaucracy can be. It's true that this lumbering behemoth known as the federal government does well in fighting wars, ensuring and providing domestic security as well as collecting taxes (I'd prefer them to collect less but you get my point) but sometimes disastrous like these require the ingenuity and logistical skills of the private sector who don't have to abide by red-tape and the quirky federal work rules of hiring and payments - see the Bacon-Davis Act. In today's edition of the Wall Street Journal, the ever so perceptive deputy op/ed editor, Daniel Henninger, noted in his column that the US could have managed this disaster much easier if the had pre-established contracts with the giants of the private world to provide these much needed needs in a more timely/efficient manner. Just look what Henninger had to say:
But we ought to at least recognize that our increasingly tough First World problems--terrorism, viruses, the rising incidence of powerful natural disasters--are being addressed by a public sector that too often is coming to resemble a Third World that can't execute.

I'll go further. We should consider outsourcing some of these functions, for profit, to the private sector. In recent days, offers of help have come from such companies as Anheuser-Busch and Culligan (water), Lilly, Merck and Wyeth (pharmaceuticals), Nissan and GM (cars and trucks), Sprint, Nextel and Qwest (communications gear and phone cards), Johnson & Johnson (toiletries and first aid), Home Depot and Lowe's (manpower). Give contract authority to organize these resources to a project-management firm like Bechtel. Use the bureaucracies as infantry.

A public role is unavoidable and political leadership is necessary. But if we're going to live with First World threats, such as the destruction of a major port city, let's deploy the most imaginative First World brains--in the private sector and academia--to mitigate those threats. Laughably implausible? Look at your TV screen. The status quo isn't funny.
Let's just say that Henninger knocks the nail dead on the head by noting the slow and inefficient nature of the federal government. (Now this fact can also be noted about the squeaky wheel of bureaucracy in the State of LA under Gov. Blanco and the sloth and incompetence of the City of New Orleans under Mayor Ray Nagin prior to the storm hitting the city.) Now it's been awesome to watch the eight mile convoy of National Guardsmen rolling in to New Orleans to provide order as well as the buses coming to take the hot, tired and devastated people to better and dryer ground in Texas. Aside from the much needed security, naval ships as well as helicopters, does anyone doubt that the private sector could have delivered the much needed water/food/housing much quicker. People can try to lay the blame at the President's feet but one shouldn't expect him to make miracles with the sloth like bureaucracy that he has to work with. So the lesson here is that we need less government and more of the private sector in our life.

This also goes for the various charities that you choose to give to during this time of need in the region. While the national media and the cable networks have urged you donate money to organizations like the American Red Cross or The Salvation Army, I'd suggest you focus on sending your money to various local charities in LA as well as the many private sector and religious charities that give aid directly to the people in need rather than gobbling it up via the organization's operation budgets. If you want it to help the ones in need then look beyond the lumbering bureaucratic giants like the American Red Cross and seek out the private sector. Here's a few to think about:

Private Sector/Religious:

Catholic Charities USA

Episcopal Relief and Development

Mennonite Disaster Service

United Jewish Communities

Southern Baptist Disaster Relief

Methodist Relief

The Mercy Corps

Local Charities:

Hugh Hewitt, radio host/Law professor/writer has recommended that people send money to Canal Street Presbyterian Church of New Orleans because they know the area real well.

Their address is:
Canal Street Presbyterian Church
4302 Canal St.
New Orleans, LA 70119

Phones when they are up and going: (504) 482-1135


Also, check out this piece over at National Review Online on principled giving by Karen Woods of the Acton Institute. She makes some very interesting points.


Lew Scannon said...

No, I think what Katrina has shown us that the Bush administration is utterly incompetent at dealing with what needs to be done in this country. These people are our public servants, the people in New Orleans are our public and the common defense guaranteed by the Constitution was being wasted on an offensive action in an illegal war as National Guard units and much needed helicopters were being deployed there in an ever changing rationaled war (First, it was because of WMD, then it was because of 9/11 which had no connection to Saddam, then it was about stopping Saddam, then after we caught him it was about bringing democracy there, then when they failed to agree on a constitution it became about stopping the terrorists from getting the oil). Like on 9/11, when Bush did nothing after being told at Booker Elementary about the second plane, there was nothing done by Bush after Katrina hit, playing golf and photo ops at Veterans memorials. Of course the elitists at the Wall Street Journal are going to stand behind there man, he has made them all rich, while the people in New Orleans suffer, and millions of Americans feeling the after effects of the destruction of the port of New Orleans (farmers unable to ship product out, gas prices rising because of the inability to import oil through the largest oil hub in the country, are just two examples). But the truth is Bush hasn't reduced the size of the government, nor has he reduced government spending, just the taxes the wealthy have to pay as they profit from the war and the devastating effects of Katrina.

jstarley05 said...

Well it's true that some 2,000 National Guardsmen are serving in Iraq, there were some 8,000 sitting in LA that Gov. Blanco didn't activate before or during the storm. She also has agreements with the other states in the US to call on for more troops. No matter what, the calling up of the National Guard in a time of disaster (except war) falls on the Gov. I didn't see any hesitation with the Govs of Alabama and Miss. I guess you didn't notice all those folks being rescued, transported to Houston and other parts of Texas as well as the convoy that rolled in yesterday and the airlift of 100 people per 10 minutes in NO today. My whole point is that the feds are a lumbering, sloth-like creature when called upon. Sometimes the state has got to step up and get things done. Do you even understand the concept of federalism? I think Blanco could use some class time on the subject. Why didn't she have the state more prepared for the storm before it hit. Or an even better question, why didn't Mayor Nagin not get the school buses moving old and disabled folks away from the path of the storm. (I guess he preferred to cuss out the folks offering help, when he was holed up in a nice hotel with foreign visitors.) While you criticize Bush for inaction, don't forget he declare these states disaster areas some two days before the storm hit to get stuff moving and prepared to deliver relief. I think I'd direct you to look at the NY Times for "elitists." Just because they make wise investments and believe in limited government, freedom, free markets, doesn't mean they're in cahoots with President Bush. Conservatives might vote for Republican presidents but that doesn't mean they agree with everything the Commander-in-Chief does. Read the editoral pages of the Wall Street Journal more often. As for corporates taxes, they are always passed on to the customers in the long run. With a 40% corporate tax we have less jobs staying here because corp. choose to go to lower taxed places like Ireland (15%, prices of goods go up, corp. can't expand because every $.40 out of every dollar they makes goes to taxes. I'm angered about the growth of government as well and that was what Henninger was pointing out in his piece. I'd prefer Calvin Coolidge running the show but Bush is a hell of a lot better than Kerry or Gore would have been on the budget. It'd be nice to see a veto every once in a while. Dude, stop listening to Air America for your sanity.

Susi said...

You are obviously well read, and I appreciate your educated viewpoint. We all are rooting for the Katrina victims. Thanks, Susi,