When you’re a kid you feel secure imagining that the people who manage critical government functions are old, wise, and well-qualified. There comes a sad point in many lives when the cruel facts shatter this illusion. You wake up and realize that folks running multi-$billion programs are younger than you and, objectively, no better qualified to do their tough job.
For me this moment came about seven years ago at a friend’s house in Cambridge. Another guest was a high official in the Clinton Administration charged with supervising $billions in health care expenditures. She was about my age, pleasant, a friend of Bill Clinton’s, and had absolutely no relevant experience for the job. She was not a medical doctor, had never worked in a hospital, had never managed a large business or budget.
For much of the rest of the country the moment seems to be now, upon learning that the federal government’s $6 billion/year emergency management capability is being managed by Michael Brown, a guy whose last job was running a horse show association. One would naively have expected a retired military logistics expert to be chosen to head up FEMA. Instead we get the lawyer/horse guy.
A lot of folks in Latin America remain convinced that the Man (Uncle Sam) is keeping them down. Considering that the Man is actually mostly guys like Michael Brown they ought to be really embarrassed that they are such pushovers.