Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Katrina: 2 Years Later

New Orleans - Aug 29. 2005

After 2 years, many parts of New Orleans are still in ruins. And a lot of people are angry or bewildered as to why. Why can't the richest country in the world rebuild a city?

The AP noted this morning, “On the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, anger
over the stalled rebuilding was palpable Wednesday throughout the city where the mourning for the dead and feeling of loss doesn’t seem to subside.”

How could anyone feel anything but anger? For all the rhetoric from the administration, exactly two years after Katrina ravaged New Orleans, “none of the 115 ‘critical priority projects’ identified by city officials” for publicly funded rebuilding efforts “has been completed.” Of the $34 billion “earmarked for long-term rebuilding,” less than half “has made its way through federal checks and balances to reach municipal projects.”

Allow me to explain: That's not a bug, it's a feature. Remember Grover Norquist? He of "shrink the federal government down to the size where you could drown it in a bathtub"? That philosophy is pervasive in our current administration. The belief is that government doesn't work, so everything should be handled by the private sector. The billions are handed to private contractors, but they are never held accountable as to what they do for the money.

Here's where the philosophy fails. Business exists to make a profit. Most do so legitimately, but some are just plain greedy. Some projects just aren't that profitable (such as repairing bridges), and parts of New Orleans fit that profile. The areas that have NOT been rebuilt are almost all POOR areas. The poor, by their very name, are not profitable. Just ask any insurance company.

Throw in some corruption, incompetence, and underlying racism, and you have a perfect recipe for inaction. What has happened in New Orleans after Katrina is only a symptom of a much more widespread disease, and we are all at risk of the next outbreak.

It doesn't have to be this way.

And now our shrub is visiting them again (the 15th time), with more empty words. Haven't they suffered enough?

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