I don’t know why people conflate things just to reinforce their own biases. I try not to do so myself and am not happy when correctly called on it. In this case, though…
This link just gets me steamed. Some people have their eyes trained so much to see “bad things” that everything is bad.
The juxtaposition of news about the disaster in the Indian Ocean basin and the prices of the Presidential inauguration parties presents too great a clash for me to ignore. According to the NY Times, the Presidential Inaugural Committee expects the tab to top $40 million. Tickets are selling in the range of $2,500 per person.
I don’t want to belabor this. The moral is obvious. It’s not that we’re the richest country in the world; somebody’s go to be that. Nor even that our contribution to assist the victims, large though it may be, is far from the size it could be. But to spend millions on a gaudy party in the name of the President while so many are in such dire need seems to me to be the epitome of everything we should not stand for.
Well. I guess it would be beside the point to state that it’s not so much in the name of the President as in the name of the country and constitution that guy will be serving, or to point out that Mr. Soros has that kinda slush sitting in his spare pants pocket after the election. But the points I need to make aren’t in support of a political party, they’re in support of (1) tu quoque ain’t a way to run a railroad since I ate my broccoli as a kid and they’re still starving in Africa and (2) it’s clear that my limited experience working this kind of crisis management is that “slow is fast and fast is slow”; you get better results when you take a second to plan where you can do so.
I know it’s going into the wind but I joined the comment fray. Some of my broadsides…
There’s ALWAYS going to be something more deserving. I didn’t see you carping about anything Hollywood, or the cost of Green Day’s new video, or why celebrity ‘x’ still owns ‘y’ new toy. I challenge you to pick on that celebrity six months from now–maybe it’ll do some good.
I read $15M as available “right now” money for DART teams and planning $$ so we know what magnitudes of need exist and goes where it’s most needed. (Read some blogs to see where people without food are getting truckloads of sweaters–in the tropics–and let’s not forget Live Aid, where $$ went other places than where it should have been.) $15m to $350m in a day or two unimaginable? Ever work with USAID, who funnels most of the money that many “nonpartisan” aid NGOs rely upon? Ever see what an effective aid profile looks like as a function of time?
And don’t forget to add in the Bonhomme Richard strike group, a rather nontrivial amount. And all that NONgovenmental money, which in our system is allowed to occur without national fiat. You know, people actually giving money and aid without being forced to by The Gummint.
Three cheers for carping, apparently.
Then some comment about how evil the administration is, so I tried to keep it civil.
If indeed the money way “in the pipeline” before public criticism, is it even conceivable that the Bush administration would not have come out with the most impressive number of all? And why did it take four days for the 350M figure to come out?
Yeah, I know, the right believes that the Bush administration is ALWAYS hiding its light under a bushel basket, and that it just NEVER manages to take credit for all the wonderful things it does.
On earth, though, we have a different idea.
Although I haven’t done the planning for this disaster relief, I’ve been part of a team which short notice planning for a MEU/ESG humanitarian aid mission. The MEU can turn on a dime, as it plans continually for it. The ESG, being Navy, can sail quickly. Both organizations still, with all that training, take a finite slice of time to make a quarter-decent plan–and the whole time there’s many levels of fibrillation above us as various points of the chain of command process the decision to GO or NO-GO.
Okay, Frankly0, how do you arrange for such purchases? Where does the money go? How does it get funneled? Since Congress hasn’t made a separate appropriation, who gets money taken from them to make it work? What needs to be bought and how do we get it there? Since the strike group is racing at top speed, their logistic capability will be limited to equipment on hand until they get boots on the ground. Who writes the contract to lease the ships for the heavy lift?
Wouldn’t it make sense that these types of questions take more than thirty seconds to answer?
Even if you were correct about the reason for the money going to a larger number, I get a similar answer timewise using anecdotal experience and rules of thumb. Would it not make good fiducial sense to figure out where to spend the money so that the people who have that money taken from them (me, for instance) get that money used effectively? I haven’t checked with more than two of my NGO friends, but they also have a finite time frame to get into gear as well–unless they’re already on the ground it takes time to start rolling and flowing logistics.
Please, you say. Okay, I see that you and I have differing starting positions for our worldviews, but there is a common reality on the ground here. Have you ever done something large-scale like this? I mean, would it not cause a mortal wound to perhaps consider that this might possibly be like other human enterprises in that it’s not a miraculous and instantaneous “everything gets better”? I bet you’ll see misallocated resources, fraud, theft, and stong taking from the weak too–look at what the different parties in Sri Lanka’s eternal civil war are doing with aid near their factional borders, for instance. We may even completely kark up the crisis planning for this and have some fantastic screwups, but I doubt we’ll have soldiers with child porn rings like the UN has (as of last week–not that it’s S.O.P., but we do have better processes to prevent such things from occurring or punishing those who fail.)
Is that going to be automagically all better now that some hubris-laden arrogant functionary at the UN decided to publicly complain that he didn’t get everything he wanted?
Has your heart become so hard that you are unable to see any competence or good in others?
Or maybe it’s just eyeball failure: nothing good can be allowed to be seen.