Say the secret word: bureaucracy

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it wrongly, and applying the wrong remedies.”

—Sir Ernest Benn, New York Times, Sept. 8, 1946

As of this writing, your never humble Host is still recovering from his trip into the People’s Republic of California. Westbound I-80 traffic was at a standstill west of the Donner Lake interchange for about three hours. I know. I was in it. Or more to the point, stuck because of it. I could have turned around and tried later, but hope springs eternal.

After the Angora Fire, I wrote of the insipid responses of the two governors Republican, Gibbons and Schwarzenegger. (I’d like to think all Republicans “get it,” but again, hope springs eternal.) Anyway, they formed a bi-state commission to review the TRPA’s (Tahoe Regional Planning Agency) bureaucracy and suspected fault over fire control and suppression after said fire.

In a July 6 press release, Gov. Jim Gibbons wrote to California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to create a joint commission to review forest management practices in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

The resulting MOU or Memorandum of Understanding stated thusly:

“The Commission shall perform a comprehensive review of the laws, policies, and practices that affect the vulnerability of the Tahoe Basin to wildfires and/or that pertain to fire prevention and fuel management in the Basin. The Commission shall study and consider various approaches to reducing identified vulnerabilities, and shall submit findings and recommendations to the Governors of California and Nevada by March 21, 2008.”

Now let’s recall that the TRPA was created to, among other things, “provide for maintenance of the environmental, social, physical, and economic well being of the Region; and coordination with local, state, and federal requirements.”

Although among bureaucrats (even Republican ones) yet another government bureaucracy is apparently the solution to the first one’s failure. Or something to that effect.

This is the equivalent of the creation of the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of 9/11. When one government agency screws up, we just create a new one. Something one would expect as an example of good public policy from our looney friends on the political left, but it is quite maddening when those on my side of the aisle take a departure from reality. Again, let’s recall that feeling good about doing something is quite different from actually accomplishing something.

Although to their credit, in paragraph 10 of said memorandum, at least the “Commission shall disband 60 days after delivering its findings and recommendations.” So it at least is temporary—assuming of course that the commission can get its act together and actually submit findings of fact and recommendations by March 21. And if not, then what?

And exactly where is the money coming from? The memorandum states that both states shall fund this thing in “substantially equally amounts.” Why? Three-fourths of the lake is in California.

And why should taxpayers continue to find ways to fund bureaucratic screw ups?

Wouldn’t it be better to ask the TRPA leadership to explain where they screwed up? Or to prove that they didn’t? Better yet, how about just firing the whole lot and replacing them with new people charged with discovering the problems and fixing them. (Recall Democrats having histrionics over FEMA Director Michael Brown, post-Hurricane Katrina?)

So the point—or is it the question—here, is exactly why is the solution to solving one bureaucracy the creation of another?

Or perhaps that brings us back to Sir Ernest’s’s assertion.