Friday, September 09, 2005

The Friday Furo Questus

Questus Furore

Locally organized Civil Defense: time for a return to it?

The size of Hurricane Katrina's path boggles the mind, and numbers only hint at the size of the disaster. Literally millions displaced; 90,000 square miles hammered; heaven only knows how many dead. The mind equally boggles at the desire to place blame.

Rather than go into the ongoing blame game, I'd like to mention one thing that was hammered home to me this week.

Your survival will depend on you. You cannot expect or count on the government to immediately save you in the event disaster strikes. It pays to be prepared.

Remember Tom Ridge's advice, that was so routinely mocked? His advice to prepare a stash of supplies in the event disaster strikes? (See

Doesn't seem so stupid now, does it?

For now - I think we, as a nation, need to reconsider disaster preparedness, and pay a lot more attention to individual preparedness. That 72-hour kit is not guaranteed to save your life - but it will improve your odds of survival.

For more early lessons to be drawn from Hurricane Katrina, check out

Recommended Reading
This Sunday marks the fourth anniversary of the attacks of September 11th, 2001.
Remember, remember, lest we forget.

Victor Davis Hanson:
"What are we?"

An interesting report (with pictures!) on the hurricane damage:
As we headed up the river I spotted a chemical plant that looked like it had been abandoned years ago. The refining tanks were dark black and appear to be aged and corroded. That was until the pilot pointed out the small patches of green paint. The rest had been scoured off by the wind.

Jerry Pournelle takes FEMA to task, but for a whole other reason:
Every large centralized bureaucracy in history has been inefficient, sometimes notoriously so. We decided to centralize the education system, with disastrous results. The S0viet system of agriculture produced about the result you would expect. NASA is another case.

Federalizing Civil Defense and disaster response in a nation this size faced with the variety of possible emergencies we face produces about the results you expect. It won't work. It was a structural failure.

Now I suppose we can say, well, you should have known that there would be disorder, and have sent in troops before the storm hit. How you were supposed to know that is a problem: why did you expect a breakdown in law and order in New Orleans but not in other cities? And of course it's illegal to send in Federal troops absent a request from the governor.

But why we expect Washington to take care of all our problems is beyond my kenning. It won't work. It never has worked. Self government implies some self responsibilities and self capabilities.

Or was it George Bush's fault that all those school busses sat unused until flooded out? Of course it was -- if you have already decided that it's all the Federal Government's fault. But in fact it isn't any particular person's fault. The system was doomed from the day it was decided that we would have central bureaucracies to deal with such emergencies.
Thought of the Week
"The worst lesson that can be taught to a man is to rely upon others and to whine over his sufferings."
Theodore Roosevelt

Churchill Quote of the Week
"When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber."
Sir Winston Churchill


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