Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Tension and Cooperation

For the American system of government to work, there has to be some tension and some cooperation between the different levels of government. Local decisions based on local circumstances, local expectations, and local capabilities tend to produce the best results for the local citizens.

However, Americans are not just citizens of a City without also being citizens of a County or Parish, State, and Country. Citizens of a State can force the citizens of a City within a State to conform to State standards and citizens of a America can force citizens of a State to conform to the standards of America as a whole.

Tension between the different levels of government is needed to prevent one level of government from becoming too powerful and the other levels of government from becoming too weak. Cooperation between the different levels of government is needed to maintain an orderly society.

During the Katrina disaster, neither the tension, nor the cooperation, between the City, State, and Federal government was what it should have been. It is interesting to me that the person probably least responsible for the problems in New Orleans is the person who has taken the most blame and has ended up accepting the most responsibility.

As usual, President Bush has risen above all of the partisan rhetoric. I do think he deserves some blame and should take some responsibility. I admire him for the way he admitted the Federal government made mistakes, but I also think he has established a bad precedent by taking all of the responsibility.

It is usually wrong to base a policy on extreme circumstances. The best policies are based on typical circumstances. In the future, States and Cities will both be less prepared to deal with disasters because the leaders and citizens of the states will expect more of a federal response. I think this is wrong and dangerous.

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