Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Experience Counts

If there is any good news that can be found in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina it is in the valuable lessons that have been learned. It can cost more money to bail out New Orleans and Louisiana than it costs to bail out the politicians who live there. Given the prevailing winds, stockpiling 800 truckloads of ice in Maine has a limited cooling effect on the Gulf Coast of the United States. Rolling every government agency except the Massachusetts Cranberry Pricing Board into the Department of Homeland Security is not necessarily a good idea. Training 85 year old bed-ridden Alzheimer’s sufferers in aquatic survival skills has a limited return on investment. Without cosmetic engineering, cable news reporters named Cindi, Missy and Buffy look like wombats who just escaped from a commercial washing machine.

Michael Brown, former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency has taken these and many other lessons to heart. Within days of the disaster he sensed that there was something amiss when W stopped calling him ‘Brownie’ and began referring to him as ‘that useless idiot who couldn’t manage a war in Iraq’. Clearly, it was time to move on to the next challenge. Unfortunately, the job of preparing to defend the USA from health emergencies such as an anthrax attack or the avian bird flu was already taken. Stewart Simonson, Assistant Secretary for Public Health Preparedness in the US Department of Health and Human Services, has a lock on the job. Simonson’s background includes being a corporate secretary for the National Railroad Passenger Corporation and in coordinating crime and prisons policy for the state of Wisconsin. Noting that Simonson could open one of those annoying child-proof aspirin bottles, President Bush said that ‘Stewball’ is doing a great job.

Michael Brown has not been discouraged however. He is an optimist. He sees hope where others see catastrophe. He thinks 30,000 people can share 12 toilets in a football stadium for 4 days and remember to wash their hands after flushing. So he started a new company that specialises in disaster preparedness consulting: Michael D. Brown LLC. (Market research gave a slight edge to that name over Black Death Limited, Armageddon, Inc. and Dress for Disaster Associates.) Apparently, the new venture is off to a good start. Brown said, ‘I’m doing a lot of good work with some great clients’. In the interest of preventing mass panic and a collapse of local housing prices, the client list is confidential. Michael was also was quoted as saying ‘My wife, children and my grandchild still love me. My parents are still proud of me’. Mrs Brown and the children could not be reached for comment as they are house hunting in North Korea. Michael’s father is suing the family doctor for $11,000,000 over the faulty vasectomy and his mother is busy filming a Hollywood bio-epic called ‘Spawn of Satan’.

The new business enterprise is headquartered in Denver, Colorado and there are early signs of success. Based on an exhaustive study of the Rocky Mountains, Brown noted that Denver is poorly prepared for a tsunami. In a detailed report, Brown recommends increasing the number of US Coast Guard bases in Colorado and replacing the paper towel dispensers with warm air blowers in the toilets in Bronco Stadium.

There are rumours that Stewart Simonson is planning to join Michael D. Brown LLC. Hopefully terms can be agreed before 37% of the US population dies from Ebola.


Blogger Abby Taylor said...

Great essay. Did you see Alternet's Mike Brown consulting firm slogan contest?

9:31 PM  
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