Saturday, September 03, 2005

This Course Has Been Offered Before

Everybody's talking. And talking. Mostly complaints about the response to the effects and aftereffects of Hurricane Katrina. Many on the left are assigning blame for a slow response to the federal government, specifically President Bush. Many on the right are assigning blame for the slow response to the local authorities, specifically the Governor Blanco and New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. I side with the latter, but that's neither here nor there.

We are being bombarded with images of people crying out for help. Yes, there are multitudes of people requiring assistance. We as a nation are responding, as we should, indeed, we must.

But... Read this excerpt, then go read the whole thing:
Image after image of unrelenting sorrow, layered one atop the other like a deck of haunting cards. A baby held aloft, inches above a sea of desperate faces, gasping for air. The dead left where they've fallen, in plain view, robbed of even the simple dignity of a shroud. Survivors waiting, then begging, then fighting, finally, over food and water.


While the images of natural disasters and man-made ones alike, from Sri Lanka or Baghdad, cause despair, the pictures from New Orleans inspire not just helplessness, but disbelief. The richest, most powerful nation in the world can build schools, hospitals and shelters halfway around the globe, but it can't provide the basic necessities for its own days after a disaster that everybody saw coming?


Usually, we shudder, change the channel or turn the page, awaiting better news. But there is something too compelling about these pictures. The distance between us and the people in them has been narrowed, rendered uncomfortably close, and not just for those who are family, friends or neighbors. We recognize them. We all see people like them.


Back? Great. What did you think after reading that trash? The United States is presently circling the drain, in a cataclysmic descent into third-worldness, right?

WRONG! We are doing just fine, thank you. Except...

What really bothers me about this (and we'll leave the Mainstream Media reporting, the source of this feeling of dispair, as another post) is this (bolds mine):

There will be time enough, too, to assess blame, for politicians to point fingers, find and fire those deemed accountable. And maybe even to figure out how a handful of Southeast Asian governments, whose economies, armies and emergency resources could all be folded comfortably several times inside those of the United States, responded to a tsunami much larger and fiercer than Hurricane Katrina with swiftness and efficiency, and we could not. And so the frustration builds, not so much over what happened, but what did not.

One, I hope those politicians are looking in a mirror when they point the fingers. Probably ain't gonna happen, though.

Two, and this goes along with those saying that we need to step back, look over the things that worked and the things that didn't, so we don't have to go through this again. Uhhh, people, I have to tell you this... this WAS NOT THE FIRST chance to learn about disaster preparedness. Remember August 24, 1992? Think Hurricane Andrew. I participated in the recovery efforts after Andrew, spending a total of four months there (paid work, not volunteer, before you go thinking what a nice guy I am). I saw firsthand the destruction, the suffering, the misery, the seemingly inadequate responses. I say seemingly because the responses, in hindsight, were not inadequate, nor too slow in coming. The greater the response required, the longer the time necessary to accomplish it. Granted, the loss of life and property from the aftermath of Katrina will exceed that of Andrew.

Nevertheless, in the school of life, this course has been offered before. Apparently, not many enrolled, and those that did failed to receive a passing grade. Why not? I refer you to the first bolded passage in the previously quoted section. Politicians are the culprits.

(Thanks to Free Republic for the original link)

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