I really am tired of dealing with the Katrina ‘fall-out,’ but Ezra Klein has a post up criticizing efforts to ‘privatize’ FEMA, which I think would be a pretty bad idea right now. However, most of his post comes from the standpoint that what happened in the Gulf was a failure- a premise I do not agree with nor probably never will.
I see some inexcusable errors- the communication breakdown, the failure to evacuate people or place food and supplies in the shelters of last resort, a number of bureaucratic snafus, etc., but I hardly see the largest and fastest mobilization of this kind as a ‘failure.’
Now, granted, I spent a couple of years in the military and have been involved with a few mobilizations and a few relief efforts, so I may not have the credibility that a Paul Krugman or a Josh Marshall, with their extensive experiences, when it comes to condemning these efforts as a failure, but I do have my opinions. One of my opinions is that statements like this demonstrate the wide gulf between the plausible and the desired:
MR. RUSSERT: What’s the biggest mistake you made?
MAYOR NAGIN: My biggest mistake is having a fundamental assumption that in the state of Louisiana, with an $18 billion budget, in the country of the United States that can move whole fleets of aircraft carriers across the globe in 24 hours, that my fundamental assumption was get as many people to safety as possible, and that the cavalry would be coming within two to three days, and they didn’t come.
Now that is one fast aircraft carrier!