Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina: Those left behind

There are those that seem to think that the folks left in New Orleans should pay for their rescue. Look, while I'm sure some did actually choose to remain it is probably safe to say that many, probably the vast majority had no choice in the matter. Poverty is real and poverty means limited choices and a lack of access to resources. It means not everyone has access to a car or the money for gas.
Another thought about paying for the rescue: FEMA dropped the ball on this. I'm certainly not an expert but I think common sense indicates that they fell flat on their face. My guess is that this is largely because of a lack of organization within FEMA and the larger structures in which it fits. You don't pay for services that leave you in pools of feces for 4 days with little to no food or water.
Those that were left behind are not only victims of a natural disaster, they are victims of a society largely based upon the backs of poor and the working class. Class is one of those things that we in this country no longer talk about but it does indeed exist. New Orleans has a long history and I'd suggest that now is the time to remember that history and learn from it.
America has a great deal to learn about itself. If we are an intelligent society we will learn from this event. It's long past the time that we begin dealing with the fact that our society is organized for the benefit of the few on this planet. We need to deal with problems we have long chosen to ignore. The levees of New Orleans are one example. War waged on behalf of capital and the over use of limited resources by a small portion of the planet's population is another. Global warming and destruction of important habitats such as the wetlands are other problems we are ignoring. Peak oil is yet another. It is important to react to our problems before they are in our face. Better to look for the root causes of the problems, better to not ignore the symptoms.
We are all accountable. This is not just about a president and his misguided policies. It is about all of us who choose to live a life in which we are not responsible citizens on a daily basis.

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