Sunday, September 04, 2005

Some Thoughts on Post-Katrina New Orleans

In a state as litigation-prone as Louisiana, the first step in any disaster is to determine who is at fault. If someone knows they are at fault or even likely to be accused of being at fault, the Louisiana political handbook recommends that they pin the blame on someone else.

Case in point: Mayor Ray Nagin did not send out several school busses to evacuate those who could not evacuate themselves from the city, such as the poor, the elderly, or handicapped. Governor Kathleen Blanco likewise did nothing of the sort. They both royally screwed up. Following the handbook, they blamed it on someone else: The federal government.

Hey, why not? Bush is already low in the polls due to lagging support for the war in Iraq and gasoline prices. The fact that Bush diverted federal money from New Orleans flood control systems to fund the war doesn’t help Bush (In his defense, Bush had to choose between an evil that might come, Katrina, and the evil that was already here, the war, to decide where to spend an already struggling budget).

This whole bussing situation brings up another issue dear to my heart: the hypocrisy inherent in Liberal Democratic attitudes towards minorities. If you go by geographic area, Louisiana is predominantly conservative. However, we keep winding up with the likes of Senator Mary Landrieu and Governor Kathleen Blanco. The vast majority of their support comes from New Orleans and Baton Rouge, predominantly from minorities, the poor, the uneducated, the criminal, and the dead. Those left behind in New Orleans consisted in large part of these very categories. I’m sure these two ladies are ripping New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin to shreds over disenchanting and disbanding their core of support in this state. Then again, if the public buys the “It’s the fed’s fault” line this may turn out to be a political windfall for Democrats nationwide.

The hurricane may have an effect that actually benefits New Orleans. This city houses some less-than-pleasant statistics, such as a more than 25% poverty rate, a murder rate that is 10 times the national average, and 55 of Louisiana's 78 worst schools. If the majority of the remaining New Orleans population is comprised of those who are willing to shoot at rescue helicopters and personnel, who are willing to loot non-essential items and rape and kill, then maybe it’s a good thing that the military has now had its gloves taken off. Maybe this is the only way that such a cancer could be removed from this local society.

Finally, I keep hearing comparisons between Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and 9/11/2001 in New York, both in the loss of lives and in the aftermath. I keep thinking of the differences. The most obvious difference is that 9/11 was created by man and Katrina was a natural occurrence (despite some Muslim claims to the contrary). The second is in the basic economic class of the victims. The majority of the 9/11 victims were white collar workers, whereas the majority of those who couldn’t get away from Katrina were poor – call me a cynic, but I can’t help but wonder if this was a factor in the relative rescue times. Finally, the hustle and bustle of New York stands in stark contrast to our domestic banana republic whose state motto is "Laissez les bons temps rouler" (“Let the good times roll”).

If there is blame assigned, I truly hope it goes squarely where it belongs. More importantly, I hope we as a state and we as a nation learn some important lessons from this and move on to better times.

10 Comments:

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I have a Hurricane Katrina blog. It pretty much covers hurricane related stuff.

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