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Jeb Bush Gets it Right

September 30th, 2005

As Governor of Florida, I imagine Jeb has quite a bit of experience with natural disaster preparedness and response. Today he has a opinion piece in the Washington Post calling on the Federal government to slow down its rapid movement towards a complete federalization of the response effort.

I think he makes some very valid points, and does so without saying things like “the Federal government is evil and will take your property,” which is always refreshing coming from a Republican of Jeb’s stature. Not that his opinion is without fault. By placing reconstruction into the hands of local officials and politicians, you give decision making authority to those with personal ties to one area or another. Will the governor, a Democrat I believe, be more inclined to direct funds towards Democratic areas of the state? I don’t know the actual answer to that question, but I know that my political science degree says yes, so long as they can do it without anyone noticing.

A federal response is certainly subject to the same patronage problems, but if you appoint someone to run the operation from, say, Oregon… with little or no ties to the region, then perhaps they will be able to make more even-handed decisions. But will that person lack the necessary experience and familiarity to really know what is required?

As usual, I come down believing there is a valuable partnership to be established between the state and federal entities. If the state manages the work and sets the priorities, while the feds watch to make sure it’s all done on the up-and-up, then I think the situation will be handled better than if it were left to just one group. Of course, such an outcome is predicated on Congress not doing something which that same political science degree says is rather unlikely.

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