Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Walmart Model

Cheers to private enterprise and efficiency - via The WaPo:
At 8 a.m. on Wednesday, as New Orleans filled with water, Wal-Mart chief executive H. Lee Scott Jr. called an emergency meeting of his top lieutenants and warned them he did not want a "measured response" to the hurricane." I want us to respond in a way appropriate to our size and the impact we can have," he said, according to an executive who attended the meeting.
At the time, Wal-Mart had pledged $2 million to the relief efforts. "Should it be $10 million?" Scott asked. Over the next few days, Wal-Mart's response to Katrina -- an unrivaled $20 million in cash donations, 1,500 truckloads of free merchandise, food for 100,000 meals and the promise of a job for every one of its displaced workers -- has turned the chain into an unexpected lifeline for much of the Southeast and earned it near-universal praise at a time when the company is struggling to burnish its image.
While state and federal officials have come under harsh criticism for their handling of the storm's aftermath, Wal-Mart is being held up as a model for logistical efficiency and nimble disaster planning, which have allowed it to quickly deliver staples such as water, fuel and toilet paper to thousands of evacuees.
During a tearful interview on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Aaron F. Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish in the New Orleans suburbs, told host Tim Russert that if "the American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis."
Should we really be surprised? Gee - private enterprise and efficiency - who knew?? What boggles my mind is that we continue to act surprised when our benevolent and plan-crazy super-state fails to match the speed, adequacy and efficiency of the private enterprise system. Isn't it time we allow ourselves to flush this love affair with management-state fairytale once and for all? I know that the true believers on the left really, really want to their state-managed fantasies to materialize: "Oh, if only we had a chance to run the show, we would do it the right way and all would be just peachy - Shangri-La in Amerika..." Give it up, please.