Friday, June 18, 2010

Predictable SNAFUs

The only people surprised by this are those unfamiliar with bureaucracies:

Eight days ago, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal ordered barges to begin vacuuming crude oil out of his state's oil-soaked waters. Today, against the governor's wishes, those barges sat idle, even as more oil flowed toward the Louisiana shore.
Louisiana Governor Jindal frustrated over decision-making red tape.

"It's the most frustrating thing," the Republican governor said today in Buras, La. "Literally, yesterday morning we found out that they were halting all of these barges."

Sixteen barges sat stationary today, although they were sucking up thousands of gallons of BP's oil as recently as Tuesday. Workers in hazmat suits and gas masks pumped the oil out of the Louisiana waters and into steel tanks. It was a homegrown idea that seemed to be effective at collecting the thick gunk.

"These barges work. You've seen them work. You've seen them suck oil out of the water," said Jindal.

I know what happened: Someone realized that they'd be blamed if one of these barges blew up. They probably didn't even understand the risks, but hey, shutting down the barges was the CYA thing to do. Of course, shutting down the barges made the situation even worse. At that point someone would have to actively say that this operation is safe and "I'd stake my A on it."

In any huge bureaucracy interactions are governed by CYA. Probably less so in the military, but still, what's the reward for sticking your neck out? Best to cover-your-*ss and distance yourself from blame.

So no, a lot of this isn't Obama's fault. But I'm good with him getting the blame because, when bureaucratic SNAFUs hindered Bush's Katrina response, Obama was happy to place the blame on Bush. (and Katrina aid was hampered by hurricane damage that limited the first relief convoy to 50 miles travel on the first day) There's no downed trees in your way, Obama, why haven't you plugged the damn hole yet?

I didn't say it because it goes without saying, but this is exactly why we don't need a huge bureaucracy running health care.