09/13/2005: Welfare Government...
Oh, and speaking of Poverty and the Welfare state [We were, weren’t WE??...] Here a couple from a few more Myopic Morons who just have to defend the GOP party line come Hell or High Water (apparently Both will suffice.)
The main disconnect appears to be how each side is using the “Welfare Government” argument -- and coming to the opposite conclusion. In a nut shell it’s this:
The “Right-wingers” argument is that the “welfare government” spawned such an overweening “moral decay” which resulted in the actions of few of the the trapped people in NOLA and the looting, violence, depravity. That the Welfare aid over the year has only enabled this decay. That this is the real HARM, according to this theory. Not the physical failure of the levees... but the Welfare Culture. That the government dollars to aid the poor has created “an oppressed mentality of culture” that left them passive an unprepared to help themselves or others, “trapped” in NOLA.
The “Left-wingers” view is that welfare government is responsible for the NOLA trap by the increase in poverty over the past bAdmin years, increasing the poverty rate overall. and in NOLA this meant decreasing their mobility, availability to get Media Notice of the mandatory evacution via Television, internet , Phone, etc., which resulted in leaving them (the majority of the poor who were unable to evacuate) more vulnerable to this situation.
The argument flows (from the Right-wingers) that $$ invested in the Welfare Culture that Should have been spent on the NOLA levee instead, that is the reason that leveee failed. Not, as the Left-wingers contend that it’s the larger issues, such as $$$$$ “invested” in Iraq and that war, or in tax cuts primarily skewed for the weathly, or the boondoggles of Pork laden bills like the recent Energy Bill that regularly passes muster at the highest levels of Government.
So click on the “more” button to read these pieces…and ya’ll know why I could find a few more “Go F—K Yourselves” to pass out this week-- to Lee P. Rodgers, Robert Tracinski, Mark Steyn, and Thomas Sowell.
[Plus – Please take NOTE of Mr. Rodgers “Economist” Credentials to opine on this Economic Topic:
"Lee P. Rodgers is medical director at TerraHealth Inc. in San Antonio. He earned his M.D. at Tulane University in New Orleans and served in the U.S. Air Force for more than 31 years."]
These are each long pieces, but as you wander through them (no hurries) you'll begin to see the narrative take place.
Commentary: Because wealth is limited, future Katrinas always a risk by Lee P. Rodgers:
"Nothing could compare to the differences between the hip-hop celebrities at the MTV Video Music Awards recently and the masses of people wading through the chaos of New Orleans in the days that followed.
On one side, you had some of the best-coiffed, best-dressed and richest-fed beautiful people on the planet. On the other, you see people who haven't looked in a mirror in days — and could care less because they may not have eaten in the same time.
The Diddys and Madonnas of the world don't stand in line for anyone. The common folks around the Superdome stand because they have no place to sit.
This contrast points to a central truth about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In the end, much in life comes down to money. If you have enough money, you have access to everything. Even if your mansion in one city is destroyed, you can relax in one of your other homes while it is repaired. You never have to worry about what you will eat. You don't have to be concerned about security. Someone will take care of it (that's why they are on the payroll).
The rest of us have a different existence. We live as well as we can with what we have. We buy the car we can afford and the house we can pay for and enjoy the security that our taxes allow. Yes, we could live in a better house, but that would require cutting corners on our kids' education. We could buy a nicer car, but that means we can't take that trip to Disneyland this year. Our security, fire department and the education of our children are all based on the taxes we are willing to pay.
The disaster in New Orleans is bringing out all the normal complaints that the government could have done this or it should have done that. Why weren't we better prepared for this storm? Why didn't we build stronger levees? Why aren't we doing more to help evacuees?
The short answer is that we could have done each of the things suggested. But contrary to the beliefs of some utopians and those who think that somehow this storm was part of a Halliburton conspiracy, we can't take risk out of life. And we don't have unlimited cash to prevent every potential disaster.
You want a stronger levee? Fine. Unfortunately, to pay for that, we will have to forgo rebuilding public schools. That's not acceptable? Then I guess we could postpone that sports arena you needed to attract a major league team. Not good either? Well, I guess we need to "increase revenues," which means raising taxes, which will slow down the economic growth that the city needs to create jobs.
So you make compromises. What's the worst case scenario — a Category 5 hurricane? When is the last time one of those came through here? Never? Well, maybe we shouldn't spend all our wealth to protect us from something that has never happened. Maybe we should build levees to stand up to a Category 3 hurricane. It should be enough in most cases. If a Category 5 comes through, we are in deep trouble, but based on history, that shouldn't happen.
For most of my adult life, I worked for the federal government. One of the truths we lived with was that you could do anything you wanted — but you had to get it done with the money that was in the budget. There were only two ways of increasing your resources. You either had to convince people that your project deserved the money more than anybody else's project. Or you had to get everyone to agree the projects were so important that the only solution was to increase the amount of money pulled out of taxpayers' pockets. Neither was simple or easy. The solution usually came down to searching for ways to accomplish more with the same (and often less) resources.
Fixing New Orleans will be one of the biggest undertakings our country has faced. It will test our wills and our will to pay. But that is all in front of us. Americans from all over the country will be involved, if only because of the indirect effect it will have on the cost of everything we buy.
Trying to score points by Monday morning quarterbacking the past and current leaders of our communities is a waste of energy and doesn't put one brick on top of another. Until we find a way to create unlimited wealth, we will always face situations where people will say, "If only they had ..."
Can one say “Career Military Man” falls on sword for Ole Potus and Administration” here???
And this piece from Robert Tracinski:
Unnatural Disaster: A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State :
”It took four long days for state and federal officials to figure out how to deal with the disaster in New Orleans. I can't blame them, because it also took me four long days to figure out what was going on there. The reason is that the events there make no sense if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster.
If this is just a natural disaster, the response for public officials is obvious: you bring in food, water, and doctors; you send transportation to evacuate refugees to temporary shelters; you send engineers to stop the flooding and rebuild the city's infrastructure. For journalists, natural disasters also have a familiar pattern: the heroism of ordinary people pulling together to survive; the hard work and dedication of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers; the steps being taken to clean up and rebuild.
Public officials did not expect that the first thing they would have to do is to send thousands of armed troops in armored vehicle, as if they are suppressing an enemy insurgency. And journalists—myself included—did not expect that the story would not be about rain, wind, and flooding, but about rape, murder, and looting.
But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster.
The man-made disaster is not an inadequate or incompetent response by federal relief agencies, and it was not directly caused by Hurricane Katrina. This is where just about every newspaper and television channel has gotten the story wrong.
The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over four days last week. It happened over the past four decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view.
The man-made disaster is the welfare state.
For the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to behave in an emergency—indeed, they were not behaving as they have behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World country.
When confronted with a disaster, people usually rise to the occasion. They work together to rescue people in danger, and they spontaneously organize to keep order and solve problems. This is especially true in America. We are an enterprising people, used to relying on our own initiative rather than waiting around for the government to take care of us. I have seen this a hundred times, in small examples (a small town whose main traffic light had gone out, causing ordinary citizens to get out of their cars and serve as impromptu traffic cops, directing cars through the intersection) and large ones (the spontaneous response of New Yorkers to September 11).
So what explains the chaos in New Orleans?
To give you an idea of the magnitude of what is going on, here is a description from a Washington Times story:
"Storm victims are raped and beaten; fights erupt with flying fists, knives and guns; fires are breaking out; corpses litter the streets; and police and rescue helicopters are repeatedly fired on.
"The plea from Mayor C. Ray Nagin came even as National Guardsmen poured in to restore order and stop the looting, carjackings and gunfire....
"Last night, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said 300 Iraq-hardened Arkansas National Guard members were inside New Orleans with shoot-to-kill orders.
"'These troops are...under my orders to restore order in the streets,' she said. 'They have M-16s, and they are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will.'"
The reference to Iraq is eerie. The photo that accompanies this article shows a SWAT team with rifles and armored vests riding on an armored vehicle through trash-strewn streets lined by a rabble of squalid, listless people, one of whom appears to be yelling at them. It looks exactly like a scene from Sadr City in Baghdad.
What explains bands of thugs using a natural disaster as an excuse for an orgy of looting, armed robbery, and rape? What causes unruly mobs to storm the very buses that have arrived to evacuate them, causing the drivers to speed away, frightened for their lives? What causes people to attack the doctors trying to treat patients at the Superdome?
Why are people responding to natural destruction by causing further destruction? Why are they attacking the people who are trying to help them?
My wife, Sherri, figured it out first, and she figured it out on a sense-of-life level. While watching the coverage one night on Fox News Channel, she told me that she was getting a familiar feeling. She studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Chicago, which is located in the South Side of Chicago just blocks away from the Robert Taylor Homes, one of the largest high-rise public housing projects in America. "The projects," as they were known, were infamous for uncontrollable crime and irremediable squalor. (They have since, mercifully, been demolished.)
What Sherri was getting from last night's television coverage was a whiff of the sense of life of "the projects." Then the "crawl"—the informational phrases flashed at the bottom of the screen on most news channels—gave some vital statistics to confirm this sense: 75% of the residents of New Orleans had already evacuated before the hurricane, and of those who remained, a large number were from the city's public housing projects. Jack Wakeland then told me that early reports from CNN and Fox indicated that the city had no plan for evacuating all of the prisoners in the city's jails—so they just let many of them loose.
[Update: I have been searching for news reports on this last story, but I have not been able to confirm it. Instead, I have found numerous reports about the collapse of the corrupt and incompetent New Orleans Police Department; see here and here.]
There is no doubt a significant overlap between these two populations--that is, a large number of people in the jails used to live in the housing projects, and vice versa.
There were many decent, innocent people trapped in New Orleans when the deluge hit—but they were trapped alongside large numbers of people from two groups: criminals—and wards of the welfare state, people selected, over decades, for their lack of initiative and self-induced helplessness. The welfare wards were a mass of sheep—on whom the incompetent administration of New Orleans unleashed a pack of wolves.
All of this is related, incidentally, to the incompetence of the city government, which failed to plan for a total evacuation of the city, despite the knowledge that this might be necessary. In a city corrupted by the welfare state, the job of city officials is to ensure the flow of handouts to welfare recipients and patronage to political supporters—not to ensure a lawful, orderly evacuation in case of emergency.
No one has really reported this story, as far as I can tell. In fact, some are already actively distorting it, blaming President Bush, for example, for failing to personally ensure that the Mayor of New Orleans had drafted an adequate evacuation plan. The worst example is an execrable piece from the Toronto Globe and Mail, by a supercilious Canadian who blames the chaos on American "individualism." But the truth is precisely the opposite: the chaos was caused by a system that was the exact opposite of individualism.
What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider "normal" behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don't sit around and complain that the government hasn't taken care of them. And they don't use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.
But what about criminals and welfare parasites? Do they worry about saving their houses and property? They don't, because they don't own anything. Do they worry about what is going to happen to their businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never worried about those things before. Do they worry about crime and looting? But living off of stolen wealth is a way of life for them.
People living in piles of their own trash, while petulantly complaining that other people aren't doing enough to take care of them and then shooting at those who come to rescue them—this is not just a description of the chaos at the Superdome. It is a perfect summary of the 40-year history of the welfare state and its public housing projects.
The welfare state—and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it sustains and encourages—is the man-made disaster that explains the moral ugliness that has swamped New Orleans. And that is the story that no one is reporting.
--Robert Tracinski is Editor and Publisher of The Intellectual Activist.
Or try this point of view: The Big Easy rocked, but didn't roll By Mark Steyn:
"Readers may recall my words from a week ago on the approaching Katrina: "We relish the opportunity to rise to the occasion. And on the whole we do. Oh, to be sure, there are always folks who panic or loot. But most people don't, and many are capable of extraordinary acts of hastily improvised heroism."
What the hell was I thinking? I should be fired for that. Well, someone should be fired. I say that in the spirit of the Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, the Anti-Giuliani, a Mayor Culpa who always knows where to point the finger.
For some reason, I failed to consider the possibility that the panickers would include Hizzoner the Mayor and the looters would include significant numbers of the police department, though in fairness I wasn't the only one. As General Blum said at Saturday's Defence Department briefing: "No one anticipated the disintegration or the erosion of the civilian police force in New Orleans."
Indeed, they eroded faster than the levees. Several hundred cops are reported to have walked off the job. To give the city credit, it has a lovely "Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan" for hurricanes. The only flaw in the plan is that the person charged with putting it into effect is the mayor. And he didn't.
But I don't want to blame any single figure: the anti-Bush crowd have that act pretty much sewn up. I'd say New Orleans's political failure is symptomatic of a broader failure.
I got an e-mail over the weekend from a US Army surgeon just back in Afghanistan after his wedding. Changing planes in Kuwait for the final leg to Bagram and confronted by yet another charity box for Katrina relief, he decided that this time he'd pass. "I'd had it up to here," he wrote, "with the passivity, the whining, and the when-are-they-going-to-do-something blame game."
Let it be said that no one should die in a 100F windowless attic because he fled upstairs when the flood waters rose and now can't get out. But, in his general characterisation of "the Big Easy", my correspondent is not wrong. The point is, what are you like when it's not so easy?
Congressman Billy Tauzin once said of his state: "One half of Louisiana is under water and the other half is under indictment." Last week, four fifths of New Orleans was under water and the other four fifths should be under indictment - which is the kind of arithmetic the state's deeply entrenched kleptocrat political culture will have no trouble making add up.
Consider the signature image of the flood: an aerial shot of 255 school buses neatly parked at one city lot, their fuel tanks leaking gasoline into the urban lake. An enterprising blogger, Bryan Preston, worked out that each bus had 66 seats, which meant that the vehicles at just that one lot could have ferried out 16,830 people. Instead of entrusting its most vulnerable citizens to the gang-infested faecal hell of the Superdome, New Orleans had more than enough municipal transport on hand to have got almost everyone out in a couple of runs last Sunday.
Why didn't they? Well, the mayor didn't give the order. OK, but how about school board officials, or the fellows with the public schools transportation department, or the guy who runs that motor pool, or the individual bus drivers? If it ever occurred to any of them that these were potentially useful evacuation assets, they kept it to themselves.
So the first school bus to escape New Orleans and make it to safety in Texas was one that had been abandoned on a city street. A party of sodden citizens, ranging from the elderly to an eight-day-old baby, were desperate to get out, hopped aboard and got teenager Jabbor Gibson to drive them 13 hours non-stop to Houston. He'd never driven a bus before, and the authorities back in New Orleans may yet prosecute him. For rescuing people without a permit?
My Afghanistan army guy's observations on "passivity" reminded me of something I wrote for this paper a few days after 9/11, about how the airline cabin was the embodiment of the "culture of passivity". It's the most regulated environment most of us ever enter.
So on three of those flights everyone faithfully followed the Federal Aviation Administration's 1970s hijack procedures until it was too late. On the fourth plane, Todd Beamer, Jeremy Glick, Thomas Burnett, Mark Bingham and other forgotten heroes figured out what was going on and rushed their hijackers, preventing the plane from proceeding to its target - believed to be the White House or Congress. On a morning when the government did nothing for those passengers, those passengers did something for the government.
On 9/11, the federal government failed the people; last week, local and state government failed the people. On 9/11, they stuck to the 30-year-old plan; last week, they didn't bother implementing the state-of-the-art 21st-century plan. Why argue about which level of bureaucracy you prefer to be let down by?
My mistake was to think that the citizenry of the Big Easy would rise to the great rallying cry of Todd Beamer: "Are you ready, guys? Let's roll!" Instead, the spirit of the week was summed up by a gentleman called Mike Franklin, taking time out of his hectic schedule of looting to speak to the Associated Press: "People who are oppressed all their lives, man, it's an opportunity to get back at society."
Unlike 9/11, when the cult of victimhood was temporarily suspended in honour of the many real, actual victims under the rubble, in New Orleans everyone claimed the mantle of victim, from the incompetent mayor to the "oppressed" guys wading through the water with new DVD players under each arm.
Welfare culture is bad not just because, as in Europe, it's bankrupting the state, but because it enfeebles the citizenry, it erodes self-reliance and resourcefulness.
New Orleans is a party town in the middle of a welfare swamp and, like many parties, it doesn't look so good when someone puts the lights up. I'll always be grateful to a burg that gave us Louis Armstrong and Louis Prima, and I'll always love Satch's great record of Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans? But, after this last week, I'm not sure I would.
And this similar perspective:
Rebuilding New Orleans -- and America By Thomas Sowell:
“The physical devastation caused by hurricane Katrina has painfully revealed the moral devastation of our times that has led to mass looting in New Orleans, assaults on people in shelters, the raping of girls, and shots being fired at helicopters that are trying to rescue people.
Forty years ago, an electric grid failure plunged New York and other northeastern cities into a long blackout. But law and order prevailed. Ordinary citizens went to intersections to direct traffic. People helped each other. After the blackout was over, this experience left many people with an upbeat spirit about their fellow human beings.
Another blackout in New York, years later, was much uglier. And what has been happening now in New Orleans is uglier still. Is there a trend here?
Fear, grief, desperation or despair would be understandable in people whose lives have been devastated by events beyond their control. Regret might be understandable among those who were warned to evacuate before the hurricane hit but who chose to stay. Yet the word being heard from those on the scene is "angry."
That may be a clue, not only to the breakdown of decency in New Orleans, but to a wider degeneration in American society in recent decades.
Why are people angry? And at whom?
Apparently they are angry at government officials for not having rescued them sooner, or taken care of them better, or for letting law and order break down.
No doubt the inevitable post mortems on this tragic episode will turn up many cases where things could have been done better. But who can look back honestly at his own life without seeing many things that could have been done better?
Just thinking about all the mistakes you have made over a lifetime can be an experience that is humbling, if not humiliating.
When all is said and done, government is ultimately just human beings -- politicians, judges, bureaucrats. Maybe the reason we are so often disappointed with them is that they have over-promised and we have been gullible enough to believe them.
Government cannot solve all our problems, even in normal times, much less during a catastrophe of nature that reminds man how little he is, despite all his big talk.
The most basic function of government, maintaining law and order, breaks down when floods or blackouts paralyze the system.
During good times or bad, the police cannot police everybody. They can at best control a small segment of society. The vast majority of people have to control themselves.
That is where the great moral traditions of a society come in -- those moral traditions that it is so hip to sneer at, so cute to violate, and that our very schools undermine among the young, telling them that they have to evolve their own standards, rather than following what old fuddy duddies like their parents tell them.
Now we see what those do-it-yourself standards amount to in the ugliness and anarchy of New Orleans.
In a world where people flaunt their "independence," their "right" to disregard moral authority, and sometimes legal authority as well, the tragedy of New Orleans reminds us how utterly dependent each one of us is for our very lives on millions of other people we don't even see.
Thousands of people in New Orleans will be saved because millions of other people they don't even know are moved by moral obligations to come to their rescue from all corners of this country. The things our clever sophisticates sneer at are ultimately all that stand between any of us and utter devastation.
Any of us could have been in New Orleans. And what could we have depended on to save us?
Situational ethics? Postmodern philosophy? The media? The lawyers? The rhetoric of the intelligentsia?
No, what we would have to depend on are the very things that are going to save the survivors of hurricane Katrina, the very things that clever people are undermining.
New Orleans can be rebuilt and the levees around it shored up. But can the moral levees be shored up, not only in New Orleans but across America?”
Karen on 09.13.05 @ 12:18 PM CST