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System failure

It was not just Bush's failure. Decentralised, free market democracy is myopic

By Alasdair Roberts   October 2005

Modern American politics is a kind of media-saturated, accelerated populism. This has led naturally to a nationalisation of crisis response. At the time of the Galveston hurricane of 1900, the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and the Mississippi flood of 1927, America’s federal government bore little responsibility. But today, the public watches disasters on realtime television, sees bodies in the streets, and expects the federal government to act.

The administration of George Bush Snr was criticised for its failure to respond quickly to Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and other major disasters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema), created only a…

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