Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Boy, if the best that Dana Milbank can come up with to illustrate the benefits of Big Government is NOAA correctly predicting the path of Hurricane Irene and FEMA pre-positioning hurricane relief supplies, then that isn't really a defense of Big Government, is it?

Together, as best as I can figure (here and here, FEMA and NOAA spend around $10 billion a year.... a tiny portion of the more than $3.8 TRILLION in overall government spending.

So even if we were to applaud NOAA figuring out where the hurricane would and would not hit land and FEMA for having the foresight to have moved some number of trailers into the area (which, to me, is a pretty basic thing to do, and isn't something worthy of a whole lot of applause), there is no basis for extrapolating their work to the work of the government as a whole. No self-respecting statisticiana would do so, the sample size is too small to draw any meaningful conclusions.

And the biggest argument for not taking Milbank's position? His refusal to ever concede that any of government's myriad failures should be taken as evidence that government as a whole doesn't work. If he wants to argue that these failures are emblematic of government as a whole, then he can't use a couple of (mediocre) successes to argue that big government works.