Friday, October 14, 2005

The Double-Edged Sword

The Washington Post today has an article on a load of some 400,000 packaged meals delivered from Britain that remain on a tarmac in Little Rock, Arkansas because of mad cow fears and a ban on British beef.

This news carries with it two stark consequences: the fact that news coverage was, is, and will remain negative pertaining to most political matters, and that the federal government continues to be one of the least efficient businesses ever known.

First, news coverage regarding the relief effort has never been positive, even when describing the fact that thousands were being plucked from trees and rooftops by Coast Guard and National Guard choppers. Somehow the "MSM" (mainstream media) twisted this great news into a failure by saying that it's FEMA and Bush's fault that those people weren't evacuated.

The most recent issue of National Review has a column regarding this coverage and why it is so far from reality. Former Newsday reporter Lou Dolinar explains how the news showing a state of complete disarray and parroting estimates of 10,000-60,000 dead are completely ludicrous. In fact, he quotes Rear Admiral Bob Duncan, the Coast Guard's man in charge of the relief, saying that one of his biggest problems was that so many helicopters were operating, they risked crashing into one another.

Furthermore, Dolinar tells the story of units based in New Orleans who rescued members of their own crew and found these same guys piloting choppers a later on. One pilot was "plucked from his sunken home by his own unit, and began flying again a few hours later." Estimates from samples taken of survivors put the toll of rescued via Coast Guard, National Guard, etc. at roughly 40,000-50,000 people. This is extraordinary, but you will never read about it in the "paper of record" or hear about it on CNN or ABC.

Secondly, the fact that the federal government is one of the least efficient businesses ever is hardly a flight from reality. This is never more clear than in the complete botching of the food aid delivered by the British to a tarmac in Arkansas, and having it sit there creating unnecessary storage costs which no agency wishes to claim responsibility for. The Post claims that "no fewer than six federal agencies ... had a role in accepting, distributing and rejecting the food."

Sadly enough, it ends up being yet another case of bureaucracy leading to the wasting of taxpayer money as "U.S. taxpayers [are] spending $16,000 a month to store the meals" and "the food [is] set to expire in early 2006." This equates to a cool $85-90K price tag for a $5.3 million stockpile of useless food.

Sooner or later, Americans need to elect representatives who will begin to mow through the jungle of red tape that entangles every federal agency on the Beltway and start bringing this nation back into an area of fiscal responsibility. The more the bureaucracy grows, the more the taxpayers will see their dollars being squandered on inefficiencies of a grand scale.

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