Or, as a great homeland security point of view, “you steal from everything.”
Andrew Sullivan highlighted a recent interview with Hollywood director Steven Soderbergh:
I look at Hurricane Katrina, and I think if four days before landfall you gave a movie studio autonomy and a 100th of the billions the government spent on that disaster, and told them, “Lock this place down and get everyone taken care of,” we wouldn’t be using that disaster as an example of what not to do. A big movie involves clothing, feeding, and moving thousands of people around the world on a tight schedule. Problems are solved creatively and efficiently within a budget, or your ass is out of work. So when I look at what’s going on in the government, the gridlock, I think, Wow, that’s a really inefficient way to run a railroad. The government can’t solve problems because the two parties are so wedded to their opposing ideas that they can’t move. … That’s how art works. You steal from everything.
Kevin Drum of Mother Jones would like to disagree:
Hollywood! The place that brought you Heaven’s Gate and Ishtar! The place where a cartoon director was handed $200 million to direct John Carter, no questions asked, because hey, how different can live action be? The place where studio chiefs practically quiver in fear over green lighting a movie that’s not a comic book or a sequel. The place with executives so easy to parody that it hardly even seems worth the bother anymore. The place that spent years trying to ban VCRs. The place that’s spent the past two decades trying to figure out the internet without any notable success.
I’m not going to argue with Drum’s characterization–though Soderbergh presents the same argument I’ve heard from many representatives of private business that insist their operating strategies can be translated to federal government. What I did like was the “steal everything” idea.
Unfortunately, this concept is sorely lacking at the federal level. Every department seems to want to roll like Sinatra — “we’ll do it our way.” Inter-agency cooperation is a favorite phrase, but not a well exercised practice. While I have my doubts that Hollywood would have done better during Katrina, I do hope that at least some decision makers learn to steal all the good ideas they can.