One of the facets of the response to and analysis of Katrina is that the disaster is large enough that everyone can choose an aspect of it to look at from the comfortable heights of their favorite hobby-horse. Be it the incompetence of (state, federal, or local) government, the evils of (small or big) government, the evil of gays gathering in New Orleans, Allah’s wrath, or anything else. (I’ve touched on this before, in “New Orleans is Not A Morality Play.”)
Having said that, please join me as I ride my favorite hobby horse. It’s the very large, ponderous, un-American one that’s hard to make out under the red tape which adorns it.
One of the threads woven through many stories is the offers of help refused; the failures of initiative in the face of the need to cross ‘i’s, dot ‘t’s, and ensure that the Memorandums of Understandings between the departments are followed in all of the particulars. The phrases “you must understand” and “the way things ‘work’ in Washington” are not only trite and tired, they are frankly offensive when people are dying.
Now, it may well be the case that as any organization grows this large, controlling it requires all of that.
Does the organization need to be that large? Does DHS really need to set the rules for “passenger screening,” operate the system, and audit itself? In light of the reality that TSA screeners do no better than their private sector counterparts, I ask (again) why the department is doing that. Couldn’t their managerial talents be put to better use on a smaller number of operations?
Until the government shrinks, it won’t be possible to manage it. But to shrink the government not a passive act. Shrinking the government takes an act of will on the part of our leaders.