Friday, September 09, 2005

Federal government response to Katrina 

From an email list on which I get information from the Treasury Department:
Lives Saved (rescues performed) 47,300
Shelters 750
People housed in shelters 235,200

FEMA responders 7,500
U.S. Coast Guard personnel 4,000
National Guard personnel 45,000
Active Duty Military 19,000
MREs provided (meals) 17 million
Water provided (liters) 37.4 million

When I've heard people say they think the federal government hasn't done enough, I ask them what would be "enough". How many lives "should have" been saved? How many MREs "should have" been provided?

We can always do more, but at what cost? Coordination failures will always exist, but coordination failures of government are usually overcome with more centralization. As I heard Britt Hume ask on FNC the other night, do we really want that much more centralization? The Fox All-Stars sputtered at that point. Hume was evoking marginal analysis.

Risk is part of our tragic world, and systemic risk like once-in-a-lifetime hurricanes cannot be avoided. It's only a question of who bears the risk.

Cf. Bobby Jindal, Thomas Lipscomb