Sunday, September 18, 2005

Michael responds.

Cool! Michael responded to my Disaster post. You can read the whole thing in the comment section. He makes some good points. Lets look at some of them, shall we?
Aw, Pawpaw--not my job? That's the best you can come up with?
Yep. It's not what I choose to do. I choose to do my job and come home and play with my family. However, I am still actively engaged in caring for refugees. I don't know anything about you, Michael. You might be volunteering for the Red Cross. You might be standing in the mud helping the unfortunate. You might be cooking meals to feed the dispossessed. I just don't know. I know that I am still here, on the job, trying to make things better. Where are you?

It is the job of Governor Blanco to do better. Worrying about turf and political power while her citizens are in danger is just a little petty in my view.

It is Ray Nagin's job to do better. He presided over a disaster, then watched his city dissolve into anarchy. When the citizens banded together to protect what was theirs, his police chief issued the order that firearms would be confiscated. When I watched the video of police officers body-slamming an elderly woman who just wanted to be left alone, I was sickened. That happened on Nagin's watch. When I saw pictures of police officers looting, I was sickened. That happened on Nagin's watch.

Lets move along, shall we?
Yes, we've known since before 1927 that New Orleans was vulnerable to flooding, although check the record--NOLA didn't flood in 1927. Plaquemines flooded, thanks to deliberate dynamiting of levees below NOLA--and the data suggests that NOLA wouldn't have flooded even if they hadn't done that.
Good point. Here is a better one. New Orleans is still below sea level. The Mississippi river is still above sea level at that point. This wasn't the big one, and all the disaster predictions are still valid. Katrina wasn't the big one. Katrina missed New Orleans. Katrina was a near miss with a flood wall breach. The big one is still yet to come. And it will, eventually. This disaster was just a rehearsal.

More from Michael:
It seems as if, judging from your post, that you have a certain yearning for the 19th century,
Not really. I remember when air conditioning was something you found in state of the art restaurants and grocery stores. My dad didn't install A/C until I had left home. I remember being cold in the winter and hot in the summer. The good old days sucked in a lot of ways. Cars needed tuneups every 6000 miles. Stores closed at 6:00 p.m. There were NO 24 hour gas stations.

I tell my grandkids that I walked to school, 2 miles, in the snow, uphill both directions. They laugh, and rightfully so. I also remember a time that if you wanted something, you worked for it. I remember my people being horrified at LBJ's Great Society. I remember the first black person who came into my all-white school, and I remember wondering what all the fuss was about. She looked okay to me. I was in the fourth grade at the time, and I don't recall ever being taught in my home that we should treat anyone with less dignity or respect than we expected for ourselves. My mother was quite stern in that regard.

More from comments:
As to your suggestion re: foot toddling (see The Sweet Science by A.J. Liebling, also the author of The Earl of Louisiana for more on that)...present laws prohibit foot travel on highways, I presume for public safety reasons. Should we rescind those laws?
I personally don't know of any Louisiana law that prohibits foot traffic on a parish road, state highway, or US route. I am aware that foot traffic is prohibited on Interstate highways except in emergencies. I have never arrested anyone for walking on a public road, and I'm not going to start. I'll grant that the folks in Gretna have some answering to do about turning around the refugees on the bridge. It'll be interesting to see how Charles Foti handles that one.

The next point:
I took about an hour to examine some logistics re: evacuation of upwards of 100,000 people lacking cars in a major metropolitan area without significant mass transit, and have come to the conclusion that, yes, it could be accomplished in less than 24 hours
If you have come up with a way to move 100K citizens in under 24 hours, then you should run for office. Seriously. That qualification alone may be in great demand during the next election cycle.

About compensation:
Finally, your point re: water flows downhill, i.e., those schmucks should've known--well, the reality is that LOTS of folks with decidedly better resources than the dirt poor also have total losses...well, they've presumably got some sort of insurance to cushion the fall. However, survivors of 9/11 victims who were on the upper end weren't told to shove it--in fact, compensation was pro-rated based on factors like income (do you think this was wrong?).
Actually, you analysis is flawed here on a basic level. The flooding was a natural disaster. The 9/11 strike was an act of war. You're talking about two different things here. As to your point on compensation, I don't believe that compensation should be expected on any level. I don't think anyone should expect government to take care of them. I believe that government should provide roads and bridges and competent police and fire protection. I'll include a competent military to deal with outside threats. Other than that, I pretty much want government to leave me alone.

The kicker:
Costs and logistics--and planning -- for a natural disaster can and should be handled by the federal government, and, whether or not we like it, it's the right thing to do.
Here is where we differ on a large scale. I believe that the planning should be done by the locals, because we are best able to know what we need when it comes to disaster planning. If you ask for Federal help, then you have to put up with Federal boots on the ground. If the Feds are going to handle everything, then why even bother with state and local government? Lets just appoint a bunch of bureaucrats to run our local institutions. Hell, we've practically done that in education now.

The (almost) closing:
For every queer in San Francisco affected by an earthquake, for instance, there's someone who is the epitome of a family man. For every nutjob who chooses to live in a floodplain in Illinois, there's a farmer simply looking for a fair price for his corn (or wheat, if it's North Dakota--and don't forget that those folks also live in blizzard country). For every dumbass who lives in tornado alley, there's a rancher who's goal is to make a living providing what the public demands.
I don't see a point here. We're diverse? Yeah, that is what makes America great. And that natural disaster can strike anywhere? Agreed. That doesn't mean I expect anything. It just makes us all equal.

I've got laundry to do. Have a nice weekend.

1 comment:

Jeremy said...

The compensation given to the 9-11 victims was a slap in the face to every one who has served their country in the military. While my heat goes out to them, the federal government didn't owe them anything.
NOLA was a disaster begging to happen. From diversions of funds at various levels to the lawsuits by activists and liberal groups, the city was laid bare for calamity. Maybe they should divert the Miss into Poncatrain and silt it in. that would help some of the problem.