Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Imagine for a moment you are in a burning building. It is a large building. You are unfamiliar with the layout of the building. The fire rages and you are certain that the roof will begin to collapse soon. You and the other people trapped inside look to someone to lead you safely out of the building before the roof collapses. Just then, the building superintendant walks into the room. You feel a sense of relief. Surely he must be able to lead you out.

You and the others gather around the superintendant and wait for instructions. The first words out of his mouth are "if this place had a better sprinkler system, this fire would've been put out right after it started." You're getting nervous about the impending roof collapse, so you ask him how to get out of the building. He responds "if they put better fire route maps in the halls, it'd be easier to find our way out." You generally agree with his statement, but the fire is raging on and he isn't moving. "What do we do?" one of the other people asks the superintendant. "If the fire department had better response time, they could've rescued us already. They were probably just sitting around playing cards for awhile after the alarm sounded" he replies.

The fire rages on, the super isn't moving, and he isn't giving you any useful guidance. Your best course of action is:

a) Draft a strongly worded letter to the company that manufactured the sprinkler system.

b) Form a committee to investigate the fire department's response time.

c) Contact you attorney and inquire about the possibility of suing the building's owner.

d) Find a way out of that building fast and lead the others to safety.

The correct answer is "d". If you had any trouble arriving at this answer, don't feel too badly. You're in good company. Many of our politicians apparently wouldn't know the answer either.

Like the burning building in my example, hurricane Katrina (and its aftermath) is a crisis situation. Solve the problem first, point fingers later. Anyone who is pointing fingers now should be pushed aside immediately. They are not only not helping, they are hindering efforts. Remember the golden rule of crisis situations:


Unfortunately, many of our politcos are incapable of leading, won't follow, and flat out refuse to get out of the way.

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