He claims that the Republican political philosophy of privatization
. He claims that the Republican political philosophy of privatization
has led to FEMA’s weakening as a public safety organization:
…when the government is run by a political party committed to the belief that government is always the problem, never the solution, that belief tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Key priorities are neglected; key functions are privatized; and key people, the competent public servants who make government work, either leave or are driven out.
Except Krugman fails to grasp that the Bush administration is hardly a small government proponent. With massive federal programs like No Child Left Behind and Medicare expansion it is puzzling that liberals like Krugman actually believe that this administration is anything but about big government. If there had been a Democrat in the Whitehouse these last eight years, these same programs would have been lauded as masterful strokes of good governance. FEMA is a perfect example of the problems of a large leviathan attempting to solve problems best left to more nimble organizations—and some of those are private entities. It seemed to me that the more that government (FEMA) tried to act after Katrina, the more it underutilized or prevented resources from being effectively applied.
The tragedy of Katrina wasn’t privatization. It was poor local, state, and federal governance during an emergency combined with decades of punting the obvious problems of weak levees to someone else when it was politically feasible. FEMA was probably never the great organization that many believed because it had never been really tested. Katrina exposed FEMA as the lame government entity that it had always been and, I suspect, still is.