06 December, 2006

FEMA Must Go

This report on the FEMA audit has me so mad I could scream. It's also going to be my latest stock answer in the Why I Am A Libertarian sweepstakes. The Federal Emergency Management Agency appears to be good for little other than taking billions of dollars from citizens by force and then throwing that ill-gotten money up in the air like a toddler on crank.

_Fraud detection is inadequate. Even though GAO found at least $1 billion in disaster aid waste, FEMA has identified about $290 million in improper payments and recouped just $7 million.

_Control procedures remain weak. FEMA was unable to locate dozens of laptops, printers and other items that federal employees purchased with government-issued credit cards for Katrina disaster work. In one case, FEMA purchased 20 flat-bottom boats, but could not find two of them and lacked titles to any of them.

Fans of socialised medicine take note: Can you imagine these same people in charge of your health care?


At 11:46 AM, December 06, 2006, Blogger Exador said...

A billion minutes ago, Jesus was alive.

At 1:00 PM, December 06, 2006, Anonymous Nicole said...

if they need a toddler on crank for the job, I've got one for hire.

At 2:59 PM, December 06, 2006, Anonymous nm said...

I've read a number of news reports that indicate that private/religious groups providing similar types of assistance in the Gulf have exactly the same kind of accountability and control problems as FEMA is reporting. Goodness knows that I've seen fraud and, um, poor loss control techniques in church-based assistance to the elderly in my own neighborhood.

Further, I'm not sure what the problems of supplying shelter, food, medicine and the like to displaced people dispersed across several states, with aid workers operating in makeshift conditions and most decision-making decidedly ad hoc, has to do with running a national health service. Unless you're suggesting that USians are just less competent and/or more dishonest than people in the many countries where national health plans work just fine (and for less money per capita than health care costs here)? Europeans and Canadians are just less wasteful than we are, is that it?

At 3:20 PM, December 06, 2006, Blogger Rachel said...

It seems like, if you want the government to be smaller and butt out of things that are not its business, large-scale disasters (which cross our local/state boundaries) are exactly the kind of thing you still want the Federal government to do. You just want them to do it correctly.

At 3:30 PM, December 06, 2006, Anonymous nm said...

But if the federal gov't is being run by people who think gov'ts shouldn't do much, it will end up with a bureaucracy staffed by people who agree with that and who will therefore make sure that things don't work, because they shouldn't.

At 5:21 PM, December 06, 2006, Blogger Exador said...


Wrong. When I see it authorized in the constitution, I'll be in favor of the federal government taking peoples' money by force, in order to piss it away.

And don't try that 'general welfare' bit, like it's a catch-all for everything.

At 5:34 PM, December 06, 2006, Blogger Rachel said...

I'm in no way suggesting it's appropriate for the government to piss money away, and it's not a general welfare thing, it's a command of resources thing. I want planning, provisions, and accountability. I just happen to think that are certain large-scale things like defense, interstate highways, and massive disaster response, that could be handled better by an efficient, well-organized, well-prepared federal government. However, I've set up a bit of an oxymoron in that last sentence, haven't I? My point is that in an ideal world/government, disaster management would be one of the things the federal government does, and they would do it well.

I love it when the menfolk tell me what I can and cannot try, though. ;)

At 10:46 PM, December 06, 2006, Anonymous Ned Williams said...

exador, can we assume you like it when womenfolk tell you you're wrong?

nm, obviously the two situations are not the same, but they have a lot in common. And I'm wondering about the basis for your assertion that things are hunky-dory in countries with socialized healthcare.

And re. FEMA as it relates to Katrina (vs. FEMA generally speaking) I have to say that hyper-efforts at political-point-scoring--but NOT in regard to spendthriftiness, didn't help the situation.

At 7:18 AM, December 07, 2006, Blogger Lee said...

I'm with you - this type of thing really gets to me. In this day of technology, with software gurus and database management, you'd think the federal government could put together a way to track all of these things. I'm sure I can't begin to understand the enormity of disaster relief, but that is not what I do for a living. People are being paid to do this job, and as with most government agencies, the money is wasted all too often.
I could go on and on - but 'nuff said.

At 7:47 AM, December 07, 2006, Blogger Exador said...

Only when they dress like librarians and spank me with a ruler.

National defense and the interstate highway system(under the 'regulating interstate commerce' clause) are constitionally authorized functions of the federal government. Handing out money to people, who are too stupid to get flood insurance and too lazy to get a job after a year, isn't in there.

At 8:35 AM, December 07, 2006, Blogger Rachel said...

No, I agree with you. Completely. About the waste and fraud. I just wish they'd done a better job with the response in general.

At 4:40 PM, December 07, 2006, Anonymous nm said...

Ned, I base my comments on health care in countries with national health plans on two things.

1) Anecdotal evidence (which clearly proves nothing, but is at least highly suggestive): I've got lots of Canadian friends, a bunch of British friends, and a bunch of friends from other parts of Europe. I have never heard a single one of them complain about the health care there, except about waits in a doctor's office (which sounded about as long as waits in doctor's offices here). When we have discussed health issues, they have expressed shock that someone who is ill might not see a doctor immediately because of concerns about cost. They have never heard of skipping a yearly check-up because of cost, either. They all, uniformly, think that their systems work just fine. The Americans I know do not uniformly think that the health care system here works just fine. Some love it, some hate it -- I'm not hanging out just with lefties, you see. But even the more right-wing Canadians and Europeans I know love their national health.

2) Statistics. On almost every measure of health and health care: rates of heart disease, infant birth weight and infant mortality, STDs and teen pregnancies, survival rates for most dangerous illnesses, and more, the United States ranks behind the national health countries.

Trust me, I'd rather have my health in the hands of a government bureaucrat whose mandate was to distribute services fairly than (as it is now) in the hands of a privately employed bureaucrat whose mandate is to increase profits.

At 11:59 PM, December 07, 2006, Anonymous Ned Williams said...

Anecdotal evidence ain't gonna cut it--even if it seems compelling in a blog comments section.

I oppose the regime of back-alley braces and the mindset of "if everybody can't have on-demand Cadillac-ish healthcare, NObody gets Cadillac-ish healthcare."

What could they have done differently following Katrina? Thinks went great, relatively speaking and considering the circumstances, in Mississippi's relief effort. Gosh, I know you Dems hate Bush, but I wish you would consider the role that LA's governor and N.O.'s mayor had in any failures in the response.

At 9:15 AM, December 08, 2006, Blogger Rachel said...

You have no knowledge that I haven't "consider[ed] the role that LA's governor and N.O.'s mayor had in any failures in the response." My point, in a post about the role of the federal government, is that it's my opinion that said federal government should be prepared to adequately coordinate disaster relief when said disasters cross geographic and political boundaries.

At 11:11 AM, December 08, 2006, Anonymous nm said...

Ned, if you want to interpret outperforming the U.S. on a large number of objectively verifiable measures of health as getting "back-alley braces" or even as preventing the very wealthy from getting extra services if they choose to pay for them (BTW, no national health service I know of prevents this), go right ahead. Your interpretation isn't true, but whatever.


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