Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Disaster Without A Recovery

Contracting scandals, incompetence and a pace on par with geological time are just part of the reasons that the rebuilding on the Gulf Coast one year after Katrina has made few advances.

A fine review of the past year can be found at Facing South - thanks to Knox Views for indicating the report. From the summary:

Despite promises from national leaders to '‘do what it takes'’ to rebuild the Gulf, the region'’s recovery has been left to move at a snail'’s pace,– with tragic results,'” says Chris Kromm, co-author of the report and director of the Institute. '“Without a revived national commitment, the Gulf and its people won'’t come back'."

This fisaco on the Gulf is the most prominent example of how much the U.S. lacks leadership in critical areas. Just imagine that the towns torn to tatters and left to wallow in bureaucratic nonsense was your home town, or in your state. What reactions other than shock and disgust would you have? The families left to fend for themselves and the towns left to stumble through debris perhaps might be expected in a third world nation, but in the Superpower Bastion of Freedom and Democracy?

Shame aplenty can be served all around. Even more staggering are the numerous acheivements of private groups and individuals who have provided aid throughout the Gulf. And all this while those in charge clucked their tounges at what a tragedy the storm and its aftermath were.


  1. Anonymous10:39 PM

    Hey, Joe, it's not that we haven't thrown lots of money at the problem. It's just that there's been so much corruption and waste. How about the $10,000,000 collected in housing allowances by jail and prison inmates?!! Or those thousands of single-wide mobile homes that FEMA ordered that are sitting idle....incurring $250,000/month in storage charges!

    I'm sorry if we're not meeting their entitlement standards, but New Orleans has always been one of the most crime-ridden cities in America. The looting and lawlessness that occured there would not have happened in--let's say--Naples, FL, or Greenwich, CT. Much of the low-lying areas of New Orleans shouldn't be rebuilt at all for sound environmental reasons. And, yes, that's where the poorest of the poor lived. The French were smart enough to build thier settlement on the high ground, so the "Quarter" was virtually undamaged.

    Why should hard-working people in North Dakota be taxed to pay for the rebuilding of levies in enviormentally sensitive coastal areas that should never have been developed in the first place? Likewise for fat cats (such as myself)who live in expensive water-front homes on barrier islands and have their beaches renourished and their flood insurance subsidized by Joe Six-Pack. The entitlement mentality spans all the social classes.

  2. Anon -- the Institute's reports note that fraud and abuse at the corporate level are 50 times higher than the costs provided to individuals. That is a federal and corporate problem, not something to land at the feet of the average resident of N.O. or the Gulf in general.

    The crime rate in Washington D.C. is far worse than that of N.O. And rumor and anecdotal accounts of "lawlessness" after the storm do not match the facts, either. The Times-Picayune is a good resource for factual info.

    Since the federal spending for building the levees did not actually match the work accomplished, who else other than the Fed should be held accountable? Also, Fed officials altered wetlands and development policy which created the loss of protective waterways, so again, who other than the Fed (and the corporations who were subsidized) should be held accountable?

    I agree that too much "entitlement" mindset has helped make this mess, but my main question is the same - where is the leadership to provide an effective and efficent rebuilding effort? The states need assistance on a wide variety of levels, and the Fed can't deliver.

    Congress and the White House (which gutted FEMA so they could then claim it was not useful) failed the Gulf then and now -- which cities do you prefer we demolish?

  3. I was just reading that Bush plans a big PR blitz in N.O. for Mon/Tues. Haven't those people suffered enough?

    Everyone should be required to watch the Spike Lee documentary on Katrina, to get a better flavor of what did & didn't happen.
    It's hard to believe that something like that could happen in this country.. blatant disregard for humanity.

  4. If you actually live here, as I do. You will see a level of participation you will not find anywhere. While the media paints lopsided pictures, we continue to dig out. And as to the Billions of Federal Dollars. Rhetoric..

  5. carpenterjd12:02 PM

    I no longer have confidence in the fed to accomplish any worthwhile endeavor without ciphoning funds, manpower, etc. into some secret cache to be used at a later time when they want to engage in some shady/illegal act. The administration will just say that they are counting on "faith-based" initiatives to help ease the suferring of the victims. That would be great but I have little confidence in private/religious aid organizations to not experience some fraud as well. Everything comes down to the almighty dollar and if you don't have enough then you will ignored and forgotten.

    I'm not bitter, just poor...and I am contracted to work in a state facility and I still feel unappreciated, underpaid, overworked, and overburdened. I should have been a congressman. Curse my parents for being liberal minded humanitarians and pasing the bleeding heart on to me!

  6. I agree with Sandegaye about the Spike Lee documentary. I wish they'd air it on all the major networks on the 28th. Karen's point is beautifully made in the documentary, and there was a great piece in last week's New Yorker making this point as well.

  7. We should all take a moment to thank Spike Lee for making this documentary and keeping this disaster in the public eye. Since "When the Levees Broke" aired, I have seen more news stories on Katrina's aftermath than I have in the last 6 months.

    It is the federal government's job to step in and manage situations just like this. That's what we pay them to do. Entitlement, my aching ass. The levees broke because the Army Corps of Engineers bungled them to save a few bucks. That's on them. The death toll is so high because FEMA and the Dept. of Homeland Security failed to show up for five days. That's on them, too. Entitlement.

    Here is your rationale, Anonymous. Let's say a terrible drought hits North Dakota, leading to the worst wildfires in United States history. Now let's say nobody shows up to deal with the situation for five days.

    Why should the hard-working people of Florida be taxed to pay for the rebuilding of farms and the replanting of trees in environmentally sensitive drought-prone areas that never should have been colonized in the first place?

  8. It is such a simplistic and narrow-minded perspective to hold that the nation should not be vigorously aiding the Gulf. I'm happy to see most commenters here realize lack of logic in that view.
    If you feel your rights as a federal taxpayer are abused by sharing the burden of recovery, then it appears you are a firm believer that State Isolationism has value. I hope when or if any Federal aid arrives in your community, you wage a protest to have all such funding returned.
    Wouldn't it make more sense to be outraged at Federal failures and corporate fraud and to hold those responsible for such criminal negligence??