Thursday, September 08, 2005

The New Orleans Evacuation

Slouching Towards Totalitarianism

Needless to say Hurricane Katrina's damage to New Orleans is devastating. This is (was?) one of America's oldest, most original, carefree and culturally-rich cities. Food, music, architecture, colorful characters, melange of religions and ethnic backgrounds, more than a few universities, enjoyable parks and neighborhoods from all walks of life, parties, parades and festivals; this is New Orleans.

The shame of what has taken place after the Hurricane is also devastating. People have been forced from their homes by the Federal Government, with $2,000 debit cards nonetheless. (Could you have taken the money and stayed to clean-up your home? I dont think so.)

What does this say for our society? The US Army in fatigues running around the city forcing people to leave, this is like the worst banana republic. One of the things that makes a free country free is the ability to live where you want. Being forced from your home is totalitarianism. Like China (used to be) and the Soviet Union where you needed a government ID card and permission to move from one place to another.

What signals does this send about our supposedly decentralized federalist form of government? To localities it says you do not need to care for - be accountable to - your own, Uncle Sam will step in. To individual citizens (New Orleans families have been around longer than our national government, what right does some johnny-come-lately federal power have to tell you to leave your family home) it says, you do not need to plan ahead for natural disasters, because Voila ! again Uncle Sam will step in.

This mentality has already set-in. Some political-types in DC and the media speak of how poorly FEMA did in handling the New Orleans natural disaster....why is it FEMA's job? Not to be cold-hearted but, 1) this was a local problem, not a nation-wide one, and 2) of course FEMA couldnt do the job...just look at our war machine in Iraq and our dysfunctional intelligence services. This is ok as these are (again to be coldly rational) destroying functions, saving people's lives is a compassion function, FEMA, the Army to do this? Who are you kidding?

I wasnt there so I dont know but I was told that FEMA was turning away private trucks of emergency supplies from entering the city. Again, totalitarianism. Not allowing free association, not allowing volunteerism, with the State as all-powerful problem-solver.

There was a human-interest story today in the Washington Post about somebody that took the "free" evacuation (did it come with the $2,000 debit card, didnt say) here to DC. He said he was going to stay about 10 days, see a friend and do some sightseeing, then go back to his Dad's house outside of New Orleans, which was left unscathed by Katrina. Again, what have we wrought; why did this person just not go to his father's home directly? Why was this a happy story? Can I have my tax money back? Giving away money is the worst sort of pandering, like buying votes, again like a banana republic, or a corrupt, fiscally irresponsible government anywhere, whether the country sells bananas or not.

The people in New Orleans, and their deep-seeded Southern roots and traditions, and those voluntarily and freely willing to help can make it through and rebuild. But only if our national government does not pretend to help, gets out of the way of those that can, and stops this hideous slouch towards totalitarianism.