Friday, May 28, 2010

Big Government's Katrina

Republicans and conservatives naturally want payback on Katrina.

Famously, President Bush's failure to respond to Hurricane Katrina within moments demonstrated what Democrats had been saying all along, that Bush was a jumped-up frat boy who wasn't intelligent enough to be president.

Now everyone is saying that the Deepwater Horizon oil spill is "Obama's Katrina."

But that would be a mistake. That would be missing the forest for the trees. As Rahm Emanuel said so succinctly: "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste."

Blaming Obama would be missing a golden opportunity to have a national conversation about Big Government.

What Deepwater Horizon shows is not that Obama is incompetent. It shows that Big Government is incompetent.

It means that all the tens of thousands of programs we have built up over the last century are a waste. All the regulations and the permits in the world can't stop people from making an honest mistake. Or misreading data. Or cutting a corner. Or being in a hurry. Or just frightened to make a decision that will cost a lot of money and get them in trouble with their boss.

There's even a book about it: Normal Accidents: Living with high-risk technologies by Charles Perrow.

Humans advance by trial and error. We don't live by the precautionary principle, that we should really think through everything before we start messing around with sacred Mother Earth. We can't. Life is too short. So we push blindly ahead and every now and again we make a mess. Sometimes it's a big mess. Then we clean it up.

The great advance in the last century is in just how good we have got in keeping things clean and in cleaning up messes.

Peggy Noonan is right to point out that Deepwater Horizon is a disaster for Obama and his political philosophy. (Imagine if this happened on President Bush's watch!) So it is.

But that's why we needed the Obama presidency. We needed the American people to see that it wasn't George W. Bush who was the problem. The issue isn't competence of presidents, the delusional god of liberals.

The problem is that you can't run a complex world with hierarchical bureaucracies and regulations and permits and "Mr. President, is it safe?" Life is much messier than that.

Let's not pile on President Obama. Even if he deserves it. Let's concentrate on the bigger picture. Let's focus on the failure of Big Government.

The American people deserve something better than blundering Big Government.

No comments:

Post a Comment