Sunday, September 04, 2005

Kinda says it all, don't it?



Kim said...

I was going to post something about this, but I decided it would just depress you further.

TheCSO said...

I fail to see what's so profound about this. Yes, some "big government = bad" person threw together a complicated diagram of government departments. So? This sort of thing is COMPLICATED. And in any case, many of the departments they list don't have ANYTHING to do with disaster response. They're about PREPARING for disasters, which like it or not is an exercise in bureaucracy. It has to be, because nothing else can enforce the kind of consistency that disaster preparation requires. (Look at how all the NRC rules have, well, made it so that American nuclear reactors are designed so that the *laws of physics* prevent Chernobyl from happening here.)

And what about our military? .mil org charts are *hugely* complicated, and that doesn't stop them from being swift and effective when not hamstrung by political issues or leaders. Look at how long it took for the active-duty military to establish order, with surprisingly low casualties, in New Orleans. The streets were safer almost immediately, and food and water was being delivered within a day. They just couldn't do a thing to help until the President / Congress gave the order for them to go in.

I'm sure there are improvements that can be made to our governmental organization. But it's GOING to be complicated, and that's not in and of itself a bad thing. Charts designed to mislead and confuse the issue definitely don't help.

Russell said...

thesco: what's so profound about it is simply that the chart was NOT designed to show off the independence of the Red Cross. It was designed to show how effectively government entities could communicate and coordinate in a disaster, and they threw in the Red Cross simply because they couldn't leave them out.

You said: They just couldn't do a thing to help until the President / Congress gave the order for them to go in. This is simply untrue. The President declared NO a disaster area *before* the hurricane hit. The military couldn't go in before the logistics of the operation allowed them. Send in a bunch of military without support, and you have armed refugees in uniform -- so what!

TheCSO said...

The military brings their own infrastructure. That's one of the major advantages of using them in the response to a major disaster.

The Louisiana National Guard *should* have been able to bring their own complete infrastructure as well, but a lot of it's in Iraq.

As for the active-duty military, they generally can't operate within US borders - and there are good reasons for that. Deploying active-duty forces to a US city requires specific Presidential action.

Also, I didn't mean to call attention to the independence of the Red Cross. I don't see that as an important issue. What I wanted to point out is that a major disaster-relief NGO - such as the Red Cross - also has a very complex internal structure.

I certainly do think that there are problems with how our disaster response is currently organized - mostly, putting these agencies under DHS has been a disaster. Still, I don't see the chart from the OP as particularly depressing.