Opinionated? Moi?

Things I've been brooding about...

A city of half a million people, some of whom were shooting at rescuers, had to be evacuated when there was no phone service, no electricity, few roads, and most supply and support depots in the area were in serious trouble also. To say that this would have been a snap except for the eeeevil machinations of the Great Satan George Bush seems... simplistic. I'm no fan of his, but people are talking like his next step is going to be letting rich white hunters go into New Orleans to club poor black people for sport like baby seals. Sure. Right.

Poor people of all colours were affected the most by Katrina, because poor people of all colours are always affected the most, by everything. They have fewer options, fewer resources. They can't afford to move. They can't buy a plane ticket to leave temporarily. They can't even put gas in the car, if they have a car, or spare the money for emergency bottled water. They're more likely to keep their savings in cash, in their house. Even many that aren't technically "poor" still live paycheck to paycheck. Anything, a house fire, a severe illness, even car trouble, can be a heavy burden. Society manages to absorb or ignore individually ruined lives. Only a bulk deal like Katrina seems to get our attention.

It's easy with 20/20 hindsight to see what should have been done, which reports should have been heeded and which ignored. I'm sure there's plenty of room for criticism anyway. Any large group is going to screw up, never mind several large groups trying to work together. I almost envy the people for whom it's axiomatic that anything bad is Bush's fault. Their world is so much simpler. Of course, there are those who are thinking that this happened to New Orleans for roughly the same reasons that Sodom and Gomorrah encountered their difficulties. Their world is simple too.

I just wish I'd seen New Orleans before this happened. I'd always wanted to go. Now I'm thinking I'd better visit Venice when I have the chance.


  1. rilla said...

    While completely avoiding the political tone of your post (which I did find interesting,) I just wanted to say that I did make it to New Orleans when I was about 11. It was a pretty amazing city and it was easy, even for a child, to figure out that it was no ordinary place. It was also the first place where I saw my mom chastise my dad who had just given a $20 to a street person.  

  2. Anonymous said...

    "It's a bit more complicated than that."

    Sometimes, it seems, the world would be a much more sensible place if people would only consider the truth of your statement.

    On a sicker note, the clubbing like baby seals comment made me laugh. I think I'm going to Hell.

    Miss ya,


  3. cenobyte said...

    Sky, clubbing baby seals *is* funny. You are right to laugh.

    And while I share the sentiment that I would have liked to have seen New Orleans before it was basted for a week, from what I've seen the parts of town least affected are the ones I would have wanted to see anyway. We'll always have Anne Rice, right?

    bad cenobyte, bad.

    I think you're right, though, that blaming ONE person for the short-sightedness or ill-preparedness or underestimating-the-size-of-the-disaster...uh..edness is just foolish.

    GW couldn't possibly be responsible for all that devistation. He was on vacation, after all. Again.

    Pardon me for making political statements on someone else's blog, but I just don't think it's fair to blame the idiots for stuff that they couldn't possibly have pulled off. At least, not alone.

    Then again, maybe there's something in Nostradamus that talks about a shortish grey-haired 'demon-man' causing the winds to blow and the 'land of Sodom' to sink beneath the floodwaters of ...er... a really big lake.  

  4. Terry said...

    Actually, I'm inclined to disagree.

    Y'see, Bush appointed Michael Brown the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This was an agency so poorly run, that it's "Emergency Supplies" plan relied on trucks to transport goods, even when the disaster was in a city far under sea level... It's kinda scary that no one asked "What happens if the city floods and trucks can't get in there?"

    Anyway, the point is that the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency had virtually no experience with emergency management when he was appointed to the position by President Bush two years ago. Before becoming part of FEMA, Michael Brown was a top official of an Arabian Horse Association. (The secretary of that association says it asked him to resign in 2001.)

    "It would appear that it has become a political patronage office," commented John Copenhaver, a former regional director at FEMA.

    Ultimately, someone who was ill prepared to handle the position was appointed to the position, by Bush, purely for political reasons. So, if Bush appoints someone who is incompetent, who is really ultimately at fault?  

  5. Amy said...

    "Ultimately, someone who was ill prepared to handle the position was appointed to the position, by Bush, purely for political reasons. So, if Bush appoints someone who is incompetent, who is really ultimately at fault?"

    This is a good point. As I said, there *are* a lot of criticisms to make. Certainly the general problem of positions becoming patronage sinecures is a big one. With FEMA, incompetance is glaringly, tragically obvious when it does occur. But incompetance can occur more insidiously also. How many politicians who decide environnmental, scientific, technological or health issues actually have backgrounds in the areas? Some, I'm sure, but I'm willing to bet not the majority. Lawyers run everything.

    However, I'd question how much even the nefarious and incompetant Michael Brown had to do with FEMA's disarray. It does not take an expert to see the problem with the truck/flood plan. How big is FEMA? No-one suggested a correction in such a flawed plan? Yes, Micheal Brown should have fixed things, but this is again getting into the realm of hindsight. I bet FEMA's focus for the past few years has been on terrorist attacks.

    And even an expert in disaster-relief management (in terms of what needs to be done when, on the ground) might not have been able to make the needed changes in the policies of a federal agency. The lawyers have made a beauracracy where the only people who can get anything done are lawyers.

    Rambly today, sorry.  

  6. Flatlander said...

    Um...it's my understanding that a hurricane preparedness plan (including expensive upgrades to the various levees) was pitched to New Orleans City Council several years ago, and it was rejected as being too pricey (I heard they bought new parking meters instead, but that's neither here nor there).

    You're right - plenty of blame to go around, but it's hardly fair to put it all on Dubya. Sometimes awful stuff happens. People should point less fingers and learn from mistakes instead. MTB  


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