Monday, August 29, 2011

Irene. Big Deal.

The media are rushing to defend their over-coverage of the fizzled hurricane and, in the process, they’re forced to defend state, local and federal government actions. Already we’re hearing the dead being used as a defense. “Do you think the family’s of the six dead North Carolinians think the warnings were overdone?” was one defense this morning on Fox.

Of course, these comments are beside the point.

The point is that the government got several things wrong in a way that’s symptomatic of government’s major shortcomings. First, government is ham-handed. It is packed with people who think they know better than you how to run your life, and they do so without your consent. Mayor Bloomberg is a great example. If he’s not complaining about your diet, he’s demanding you leave your home because a storm is approaching. His excuse, in the case of the storm, is that you will put a burden on emergency services if you get into trouble. Problem is, while Bloomberg is not in charge of you, he is in charge of emergency services and all he needs to say is, “Fine, stay home. But when the storm’s blowing and you’re crying for help, we won’t be able to reach you so you’re on your own.” Fair enough. But don’t tell me I have to leave my house. You are not welcome to make any rules about my house. Period.

And NOAA. They got it very wrong. Today, they’re saying it’s better to over-predict than to under-predict and, by the way, they got the track exactly right. Well, let’s just predict rain for every day opf the week. If we’re right, nobody cares. If we’re wrong, everyone’s delighted with the sunshine. What a bogus argument!

It’s your job to get it right. You missed the dry air mass that interdicted the storm. You missed the extremely low pressure. You missed a lot of details.

The problem is, a government agency carries a certain elevated import or credibility that government agencies are not entitled to. They have never earned their credibility and every time they’re put to the test, they screw up. The government screws up about everything it touches.

Obama’s “Nice job, Brownie,” moment with Napolitano and Fugate was a Little League trophy ceremony. Congratulations on handling the storm of the century, er year, er week, so well. Okay, well here’s a thought. Do you think the families of the six dead in North Carolina think you did such a good job?