Paul Jacob

An intriguing statement — and one that signals the real bankruptcy of his position. He has no plan to solve the problem about which he rants. But once we turn our fate over to the "international community," they'll be glad to come up with an "elaborate" one.

Of course, even without consulting a scientist or developing an opinion on global warming, it is a simple fact that there were hurricanes before any global warming, real or imagined, and it seems likely there will be hurricanes in the future. No matter what politicians in Berlin or Washington do or say about it.

Meanwhile, storm-ravaged people are hot, hungry and thirsty in New Orleans. And the fact that the president's critics are full of it doesn't mean his team didn't fumble the ball.

Something even the President admitted. And as the crisis worsened, Republicans began to rap the Administration. Louisiana's new Republican Senator David Vitter argued that FEMA has been "completely dysfunctional and completely overwhelmed. There was no coherent plan for dealing with this scenario."

Where has FEMA been with air drops of food? With some plan for restoring order? Why didn't they call sooner for help from the military and National Guard, parts of the federal government that actually work?

Yet, blaming the Bush Administration misses the bigger problem.

"Everybody is to blame — it transcends administration," said Michael Parker, a former GOP congressman from Mississippi, who was actually forced out of his job as assistant secretary of the Army for civil works by the Bush Administration. "It transcends party."

Parker doesn't really mean "everybody." You're probably not to blame. He means the problem permeates government at all levels. Parker argues that there is resistance throughout the federal government to investing in long-term projects. Like the levee project.

But what about local government? Why didn't New Orleans and Louisiana governments do more to fix the problems? And where were local officials after the storm? New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin cursed and blamed the federal government for their shortcomings, but what about his responsibility? The police?

After encouraging people to go to the Superdome, the city provided no protection. The stadium became not only unsanitary but a place of violence and rape. TV cameras caught one New Orleans policeman shouting to a reporter, "Where is the government?"

Uh-oh. Aren't the police supposed to be the very first line of government?

And yet in other reports, some police were at the front line — the first to loot.

The always objective Michael Moore was quick to blame the war in Iraq. Regardless of one's opinion on the war, our government's poor response to Hurricane Katrina is not the result of any shortage of material or expertise. It is systematic of an unaccountable public sector that lacks the motivation to actually do the critical job with which it is entrusted.

"Mother Nature can be cruel, but even at her worst, she is no match for government," Lew Rockwell points out. "It was the glorified public sector, the one we are always told is protecting us, that is responsible for this. Katrina came and went with far less damage than anyone expected. It was the failure of the public infrastructure and the response to it that brought down civilization."

There will be congressional hearings to supposedly delve into this problem. Such an investigation is, of course, warranted. But it is transport and food and water and shelter and sanitation that are needed now. Not hearings. Political theater could wait until our fellow citizens are out of harm's way.

Still, the congressional dog-and-pony show begins Wednesday. At times, what speed and efficiency can be demonstrated! Sure, the government's relief effort moves as slow as molasses, but political efforts are moving ahead at gale force.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.