The Right Role for the Feds in Hurricane Recovery

Rebuild Infrastructure: The Bush administration and Congress are busy trying to outdo each other in an effort to throw money at hurricane recovery. The coyotes think everyone should take a breath and figure out what federal role makes sense in long-term (and chronic) disaster recovery. The principal that the coyotes work from is that the federal government should do those things that have strong interstate benefits and that, in effect, tie the country together. Also, the coyotes favor contributions to infrastructure building and maintenance rather than non-investment entitlement contributions. Following this principle and given that the Gulf Coast has strategic significance, especially regarding energy production and key ports like New Orleans and Houston, the coyotes favor a primary federal role in building and rebuilding infrastructure; to wit, the Port of New Orleans; wetland restoration in Texas and Louisiana (which would help prevent the type of catastrophic flooding seen after Katrina); levee repair and upgrades in New Orleans; and repair of key bridges and federal highways. Because of the strategic importance of oil production facilities and refineries, the federal government could play a role in assisting in their repair. However, it might be more advantageous to focus on a) establishing national standards for refined products that would override at least some of the expensive state standards and b) setting tougher national mileage standards for vehicles as a more efficient way of reducing the pollutants moving into the air. In addition, the federal government could surely make a contribution, with funds and coordination, to improving disaster communications between governmental entities. The coyotes are less enamoured of tax breaks for businesses building in dangerous areas and of compensation to homeowners who insist on living in disaster-prone areas without appropriate insurance. On that score, the coyotes think the federal government could require flood insurance (federally provided, if necessary) on mortgages when the property in question sits in a flood plain. Without this, homeowners should not be compensated for water damage. With the emphasis on building infrastructure, businesses and individuals will feel safer in moving to and investing in New Orleans and other areas. Without this focus, enticing businesses to invest in "enterprise zones" and begging residents to move back is borderline immoral. Wile. E.



Blame Game Is About Elections, Not Lives

Hurricane Aftermath: We continue to be appalled by the attempts of politicians and partisan commentators to assign blame to the "other side," whatever that may be, for the slow response. It's obvious to the coyotes that local, state, and federal officials made mistakes--as well as some good decisions--and that there are some systemic problems that need to be identified and fixed. The coyotes don't know who is "most" at fault and think the effort to figure that out is more about election politics than anything else. In fact, we're prepared to say that any Democratic partisan who assignes the "primary" blame to President Bush or to FEMA and any Republican partisan who assigns "primary" blame to the New Orleans mayor and the Lousiana governor should have his or her tongue cut out. On this score, we think that more Republicans and self-styled conservatives have been willing to express frustration with the federal response, which suggests that either a) the federal response is more screwed up or b) the Republicans have more integrity than Democrats. Maybe both. Wile E..


Double Standard Applied to Israel

On Gaza Pullout: See comments on the double standard applied to Israel at the Geir Notes blog.



Communication Fiasco After Katrina

The End of the Information Age: Many of the horrible rescue-and-recovery problems in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina are the understandable results of a destroyed infrastructure. However, the coyotes are non-plussed by the complete failure of everyone with a communications responsibility--government officials, first responders, the military, and the media--to think at all creatively and improvise. It's as if everyone has noticed that the normal communications structures--cell phone towers, phone lines, cable and TV systems--have been destroyed and that no communications will occur until this infrastructure is repaired. This is insane. Communications is a process--of delivering content to an audience in one-way communications or of exchanging information in two-way communication. It you can't deliver/exchange information via cell phone, telephone, television, or the Internet, then you find another way to do it--via runners, leaflets, newspapers wrapped in plastic bags (like the one dropped for free on my lawn from time to time), information centers, carrier pigeons, megaphones, or whatever is at hand. We find it especially absurd that the media industry is focused entirely on gathering information from the site of the Katrina disaster--which they do very well--and appears to have no sense that it has any responsibilty to deliver information to the victims of Katrina--or their rescuers. Wile E..

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