Sunday, June 18, 2006

Fixing FEMA: Turn It Over to Wal-Mart!

The bumbling performance of FEMA during and after Katrina showed not only a lack of planning but an inability to come up with creative solutions when faced with a disaster of epic proportions. People sat in the sun or in sweltering buildings for days at a time with no food, no water, and no chance for escape from the horrific conditions. Elderly people and infants died of dehydration while FEMA fiddled around with the question of who was responsible for what duties.

Meanwhile, hours after the disaster, Wal-Mart had truckloads of bottled water on its way to New Orleans. These trucks with their lifesaving cargo were stopped and then turned back -- by FEMA.

I'm no fan of privatization; I feel that sometimes the government puts corporate profit ahead of the services it is supposed to provide. But maybe we need to take a second look at Wal-Mart. The company has the most efficient distribution system in the world, able to move vast quanities of goods long distances at top speed. It also has expertise at negotiating the lowest wholesale prices with its vendors. While that has gotten it in trouble with critics, being able to supply essential goods at low prices after Katrina could have saved the government millions, if not billions, of dollars.

Just imagine if Wal-Mart, after watching the TV news -- something apparently no one at FEMA bothered to do -- and finding out about the people stranded at the Astrodome and the Convention Center, had been able to immediately dispatch water, food, medical supplies, and other necessities to New Orleans as well as to other parts of Louisiana and Mississippi, to arrive within hours instead of days. Imagine Wal-Mart setting up emergency shelter, and providng fast transportation out of the area where necessary. Imagine Wal-Mart setting up efficient systems of dispensing financial aid not vulnerable to abuse.

FEMA continues to fumble the aftermath of the natural disasters of last summer, and is changing with the clumsy slowness of many bloated government agencies. It's time for a big change at FEMA.

It's time for Wal-Mart to take over.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Aldene,

    Nice post... I also saw your article on "Personal Calling Card" at Ezine... It was interesting...

    I'm new to writing and am just managing with a couple of blogs now(one-personal & other for my company). I wud b glad to have ur feedback

    (1) (Personal)
    (2) (Corporate)