Wednesday, September 07, 2005

More on Katrina and federalism

In response to my previous post, Brian Ulrich claims that the problem is not federalism or lack thereof, but human failure in general. Brian also claims that the "worse failures, however, came from the Oval Office." Unfortunately for Brian, the example he cites from Kevin Drum has since been updated with a retraction of its charge against Bush.

I'm sure Brian can produce other examples to support his case, but I really don't want to get into an argument about who made the worst mistakes. My complaint about Brian's post is that all it offers to remedy its examples of incompetence is to elect more competent people. Somehow I doubt competence in disaster response will be a big issue in the 2008 presidential campaign. Even if my doubt is misplaced, no matter how big the issue is at the federal level, it will be much bigger at the local level in places like New Orleans. It is at the local level where elections are most likely to increase government competence after a fiasco like the response to Hurricane Katrina. Therefore, I still maintain that more federalism would tend to produce better disaster preparedness and response. Incentives matter, and incentives are strongest at the local level.


Blogger Brian said...

I see your point about the tie-in between competence and federalism. I guess I'm coming at this from watching the aftermath more than the lead-in. Nagin should have done more - indeed, something - to get the city evacuated, whereas afterward he was unable to really do much do to the total destruction of his city. With the Bush administration, on the other hand, I feel like I'm watching an ongoing pattern that's also manifested itself in other issues.

9/08/2005 3:41 PM  

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