Sunday, October 02, 2005

There are far too many lobbyists

This is a fairly standard story about a FEMA screwup. After Katrina, they ordered $100 million of ice (over 200 million pounds), most of which wasn't actually needed. So the majority of it got shipped around the country in circles until finally it ended up going back into government freezers. Just your standard enormous FEMA screwup, nothing special really, until I hit this paragraph:

Archie Harris, a Wilmington, N.C., ice merchant who serves as disaster preparedness chairman for the International Packaged Ice Association, said that while FEMA had been criticized mostly as being underprepared, on the ice question it was being criticized for being overprepared. "FEMA can't win right now," Mr. Harris said. "Can you imagine what people would say if they'd run out of ice?"

Yes, FEMA can't win. The only possible options were ordering too little ice, or too much ice. The option of buying the RIGHT amount of ice is clearly ridiculous, and should not be considered.

So it's kind of scary that there even exists an International Packaged Ice Association. Next thing you know we'll be seeing the World Federation of Lemonade-Stand Entrepreneurs talking about how they need subsidies in order to be ready to maintain valuable lemonade supplies after disasters.

But what's more, the industry association is actively defending FEMA for wasting $100 million on ice. Apparently it hopes to get another similar order in the future. Shameful, really.