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1. Posted by IronChef (Full Member 1076 posts) 11y

Subject: Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made
Disaster of the Welfare State

A long read but it nails the issue on the
head!!


The Intellectual Activist

An Objectivist Review

An Unnatural Disaster: A Hurricane Exposes the
Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State
by Robert Tracinski


It has taken four long days for state and federal
officials to figure out how to deal with the
disaster in New Orleans. I blame them, because it
has also taken me four long days to figure out
what is 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 the past four
days. 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 National Guard
troops, 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 drive away,
frightened for their lives? What causes people to
attack the doctors trying to treat patients at
the Super Dome?

Why are people responding to natural destruction
by causing further destruction? Why are they
attacking the peoplewho 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 last 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 the
300,000 or so who remained, a large number were
from the city's public housing projects. Jack
Wakeland then gave me an additional, crucial
fact: 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. 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
apparent incompetence of the city government,
which failed to plan for a total evacuation of
the city, despite the knowledge that this might
be necessary. But 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. 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.

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.

Source: TIA Daily -- September 2, 2005

I hope this article brigns a new perspective to the state of affairs in New Orleans. Some of the issues that you are not going to see publicized by newspapers and tv. But as I've found is one of the better explanations for the tragedy that has become New Orleans.

2. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 11y

That's so ironic - I just read an article yesterday (I can't find the on-line format for the life of me) that claimed the coverage of Hurricane Katrina was the most honest and open coverage of such an event ever in the U.S., since there was no time to put a spin on the story.

One paragraph leaves me pretty uncomfortable:

"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."

There's a whole undertone of advantage versus disadvantage in places like New Orleans. Call it what you will - racism, classism, politics of a long bygone era - the fact remains that people aren't born with "a lack of initiative and self-induced helplessness" - it's systematically embedded into them over time. The juxtaposition of grand mansions and falling-down squallor made me so angry when we visited a few months ago.

I like that you've presented a different view of the matter, though. There are 1,000 sides to the story - each right and wrong in its own way.

3. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 11y

With all due respect, I really don't consider the US much of a welfare state at all. In fact, to me it seems they look after their own citizens less than pretty much any other western country in the world. All you have to look at is the exhorbitant medical/education costs to get an idea of how difficult life is for Americans on low incomes. I feel that when people are offered little help from the government (I'm not just talking financial assistance, but counselling, job training, education, moral support and so on), they will more likely resort to taking the law into their own hands. Difficulties in the 'projects' to me are more about a lack of quality welfare than the other way around.

Think of it on a smaller level if it helps - your children. Which do you imagine to be more effective in their development as active, contributing human beings?:
a) Pay them a minimal amount (just enough to cover their food), send them to a dilapidated house with other similar kids and no facilities and expect them to find their own way.
b) Don't give them anything, kick them out of the house and tell them to fend for themselves.
c) Provide them with a world class education, quality health care and a good bed to sleep in. Give them as much of your time as you can.

I know which one I'd want for my children and I know which one I would want for the 'children' of my country. And I know which one I'd be expecting the best results from.

At the same time, the constant blame games that are going on at the moment are quite sickening to me. This article takes it a step further and decides that is is actually the victims' fault! Not to mention that I find it hard to trust anyone seriously quoting Fox as a source.

4. Posted by IronChef (Full Member 1076 posts) 11y

Quoting tway

I like that you've presented a different view of the matter, though. There are 1,000 sides to the story - each right and wrong in its own way.

Thanks. That's all I was truly wanted to do. I hope that we are all reading from different sources to realize that there are a 1,000 different situations happening at the same time and different medias are covering different areas of this tragedy.

5. Posted by moscowmetr (Full Member 267 posts) 11y

good find Tadamichi Ota, some good points. some not.

I think Tracinski is quite right about a large part of the population having no civic or moral responsability.

Watching BBC World Service a couple days after the flooding, a reporter was asking a resident coming out of a WalMart with his arms tightly wrapped around some electronic goods:

"why are you looting?"

his response was:

"c`mon fella, look around...no police, nobody to stop me..whouldnt you do it."

what struck me was the expression on his face and the look in his eyes. This man was completly and absolutly benevolent to the fact that stealing is wrong. It was amazing to me that he truly beleived to the depths of his soul that the only reason for not sealing from someone was the consequence he may face if caught.

In some of the worlds poorest countries and neighborhoods it seems that the people still have a sense of pride within themselves and their communities.

Peter is right, compared to other Western countries the US do seem to take care of their own citizens the slightest. The people left behind are the representation of the Welfare State. The greater disaster were the way some of the people within this state acted. On an intellectual level people outside the US do know that such poverty does exist there, but what was astounding and what this disaster brought to the foreground was the human reality...an in-your-face, overwhelming and gut wrentching display.

Blaming, fingure pointing etc. doesnt do much. My questoin is why the American form the one that is to be emulated all over the developing world? when what I saw made me feel so terrible.

6. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 11y

Here's another point of view, this one from the Al-Ahram newspaper in Cairo. It brings up a lot of interesting points from a completely different perspective. To wit:

"It is to America's shame that news came before food, the television hookup before medicine, transmission before shelter, images before the victims. And what images."

It's long, but it's worth a look through.

7. Posted by IronChef (Full Member 1076 posts) 11y

Quoting moscowmetr

good find Tadamichi Ota, some good points. some not.

I think Tracinski is quite right about a large part of the population having no civic or moral responsability.

Watching BBC World Service a couple days after the flooding, a reporter was asking a resident coming out of a WalMart with his arms tightly wrapped around some electronic goods:

"why are you looting?"

his response was:

"c`mon fella, look around...no police, nobody to stop me..whouldnt you do it."

what struck me was the expression on his face and the look in his eyes. This man was completly and absolutly benevolent to the fact that stealing is wrong. It was amazing to me that he truly beleived to the depths of his soul that the only reason for not sealing from someone was the consequence he may face if caught.

In some of the worlds poorest countries and neighborhoods it seems that the people still have a sense of pride within themselves and their communities.

Peter is right, compared to other Western countries the US do seem to take care of their own citizens the slightest. The people left behind are the representation of the Welfare State. The greater disaster were the way some of the people within this state acted. On an intellectual level people outside the US do know that such poverty does exist there, but what was astounding and what this disaster brought to the foreground was the human reality...an in-your-face, overwhelming and gut wrentching display.

Blaming, fingure pointing etc. doesnt do much. My questoin is why the American form the one that is to be emulated all over the developing world? when what I saw made me feel so terrible.

I truly feel that this is the real tragedy and the skeleton is coming out of the closet. I really hope that all the finger-pointing will stop and that we can discuss more important issues such as have been posted here.

8. Posted by karazyal (Travel Guru 1587 posts) 11y

[quote=IronChef]Subject: Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made
Disaster of the Welfare State

A long read but it nails the issue on the
head!!


The Intellectual Activist

An Objectivist Review

An Unnatural Disaster: A Hurricane Exposes the
Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State
by Robert Tracinski


It has taken four long days for state and federal
officials to figure out how to deal with the
disaster in New Orleans. I blame them, because it
has also taken me four long days to figure out
what is going on there. The reason is that the
events there make no sense if you think that we
are confronting a natural disaster.

(UPDATE & OPINION)

SEPTEMBER 21, 2005

All of the negative press concerning the first response by the Federal government often ignores the fact that the Federal government cannot just "barge" in and take over emergencies in a particular state. The Federal officials early on recommended an evacuation of New Orleans. U.S. Navy ships were directed to that area, USAF aircraft were sent to nearby airports - before the governor even gave permission to do anything!

The Federal government offered help to the Governor of Louisiana, and the governor refused help until it was almost too late! The governor does not come under any criticism because the governor is a WOMAN. The American, liberal leaning, press rarely ever criticizes a female politician - unless of course, if that politician is a conservative!

The Mayor of New Orleans is probably the most inept government official involved in this fiasco. He delayed the evacuation of New Orleans, but he managed to evacuate himself early on. The mayor of New Orleans allowed almost 300 government busses and trucks to be destroyed by the flooding. He could have moved these vehicles to higher ground early on. These vehicles could have been used to evacuate people faster - instead of waiting for the U.S. military vehicles to arrive. The mayor does not come under any serious criticism because the American, liberal leaning, press rarely ever criticizes BLACK politicians - unless of course if they are conservatives!

The first response to any STATE emergency are the LOCAL and STATE emergency services, the FEDERAL response is always later, after being requested by the GOVERNOR!

Most of the criticism seems to come from political parties opposing President Bush. And the willing liberal press makes a point in broadcasting these views over and over and over, etc.

The press made a big story of the tens of thousands of deaths that would occur due to HURRICANE KATRINA, even confronted with the actual totals the press continued to air their estimate of 10,000 casualties.

As of this date, Sept. 21, the totals for deaths due to Hurricane Katrina are:

Florida 11
Mississippi 219
Louisiana 799.

Most of the news broadcasted to the world on CNN concentrate primarily on New Orleans, however, the total area affected by Hurricane Katrina is as large as Great Britain!

Al

9. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 11y

Finally, I found an article that sums it up perfectly!

Letter from Africa: Continent-wide Katrina just waiting to happen

The U.S and Africa are so far removed that any comparison between two is simply ludicrous...

10. Posted by moscowmetr (Full Member 267 posts) 11y

Quoting karazyal

The press made a big story of the tens of thousands of deaths that would occur due to HURRICANE KATRINA, even confronted with the actual totals the press continued to air their estimate of 10,000 casualties.

As of this date, Sept. 21, the totals for deaths due to Hurricane Katrina are:

Florida 11
Mississippi 219
Louisiana 799.

Most of the news broadcasted to the world on CNN concentrate primarily on New Orleans, however, the total area affected by Hurricane Katrina is as large as Great Britan

hmmm, almost as if the media were let down that only those numbers died. If you like numbers, check out this site... there should be more coverage. These only reflect US Military casualties, alone the number in August is higher then MS and FL combined. Does not include US civilians in Iraq, or the thousands upon thousands of Iraqi people.