Thursday, August 30, 2007

Katrina's Lesson

I don't watch the news.

I make a point of getting my news from the internet and from conservative talk radio. The local television news is just depressing - it is a virtual obituary, only spiced up to get ratings. And the national "news" shows are thinly veiled vehicles for opinion-forming.

Inevitably, though, you'll come across an article or two that pulls you in no matter how hard you try to avoid it. As an added benefit, some are so blissfully off the mark that it makes my job rather easy.

Here's the real lesson to take away from Katrina...

Imbalanced government is ineffective. When individuals, families, neighborhoods and church communities (not to mention cities, townships or counties) abdicate their responsibilities, another sphere of government must step in. Given the tangible and intangible distance between the largest spheres of government and the responsibilities of the smallest spheres, it is natural that for the State or Feds to respond will take a long time, and then not likely well.

How else could the feds respond? There are 966 (or so) miles between Washington DC and NOLA; even if the feds had a "disaster warehouse" and packed supplies and provisions as soon as the storm hit the city, it would still take fifteen hours to truck the material that distance. For responsibilities of the smallest spheres of government, the most distant spheres are going to be horrible at doing the job that needs to get done.

Commentators remark on how "the government" failed the people of NOLA, and in one respect, I agree. Self-government was entirely needed and wholly missing from the scene when the storm hit the city. I also agree with the knucklehead who wrote the article linked above: the US truly does need change. While some might argue it needs less government, I'd only slightly disagree: we need less external government and more internal self-government.

It is my unwavering opinion that until we work on a proper balancing of the largest spheres of government, people will continue to look to external government to handle the responsibilities that are rightfully the domain of the smallest spheres of government.


S. Roman said...

What insightful thought. The states and local governments do need to take more responsibility and more of their rights back under their control. I also agree that communities, organizations, churches and individuals need to step up to the plate.

In my experience of times of needs I have seen a variety of responses from the above mentioned. Some have no sense of community and outreach and others are overflowing with it. I pray that those who overflow with a Godly sense of community outreach can affect others enough to change our communities.

Michael Tams said...


Thank you for your comment.

I share your prayer. Hopefully, or more approprietely, with God's blessing, people will recognize that it is through community (and my mind is always drawn to the idea of a Church community) that we're best able to care for the neediest in our society. It has always been that way - that's been the experience of human history - until liberalism supplanted this Godly ideal with that of statism.

Little by little, hopefully we'll take back what's been lost.

Thanks again for the comment!