Mechanical

We're responsible for the New Orleans tragedy (amongst other things)

Yeah, this is good. There's a video of a couple of police officers looting a Wal-Mart. I must confess I am torn by this. On one hand, I can understand that the people stealing goods need to stay alive. On the other hand, I strongly doubt that those looting are restricting themselves to just the essentials to stay alive and to have the police participate in the looting while in uniform does not seem like a very bright idea.

Of course, this catastrophe could have been avoid had the current administration not decided to cut funding on New Orlean's flood control project in order to pour more money into attacking Iraq. And despite Bush claiming that no one could foresee this happening, there were many warnings including an in-depth October 2001 Scientific American article detailing what could happen to New Orleans.

One article has a fascinating quote:
Disaster and emergency experts have warned for years that governments, especially the federal government, have put so much stress on disaster response that they have neglected policies to minimize a disaster's impact in advance.

And now we get to see first-hand how well the government prepared for disaster at home.

This also points out another long-standing problem with many of our government's policies (and this is completely a bi-partisan issue): responding to problems after the fact is almost always more expensive than preventing those problems up front. For example, consider medical care. Ask any emergency room doctor whether or not hooking a baby up to life support is a better alternative to proper pre-natal care and she'll set you straight if you have any misconceptions. Of course, this is also why the our country has higher infant mortality rates than many other developed nations, despite having one of the finest health care systems in the world.

Why do we, as a nation, refuse to admit that working collectively to prevent problems just might be a good idea? It's cheaper. It saves lives. But it might, just might, include a tiny aspect of socialism! We can't have that! Never mind that people are dying. We must, at all costs, preserve Capitalism Über Alles!

Some argue that socialism never works, but there are times when socialist ideals -- people working collectively for the common good -- is not a bad thing. Somehow people get it in their heads that certain things are always bad. Of course, whenever someone says "always", there's a good chance that they're not thinking clearly or are issuing a knee-jerk response. Had I reworded most of this to avoid the word "socialism", some people would be more likely to favorably react. Unfortunately, because some ideas are inherently socialistic in nature, there are those who will quite happily forgo potential benefits lest they be tainted with Socialistic Evil.

Fuck that.

There's nothing wrong with people helping people. There's nothing wrong with the government coordinating it (read about the "free rider problem of public goods" if you don't believe this). Hell, Social Security, when its history is understood, has been one of the most wildly successful socialist programs our government has ever implemented.

Meanwhile people are dead and dying in New Orleans because the current administration wasn't interested in helping where help was needed. Thanks, Bush!
Isn't it funny how we can rush in and impose ourselves on other nations (like iraq) and we can't even seem to help ourselves? Why are we really in iraq when we can't even help our own people? I hope ya'll know what I mean. I'm not as eloquent as my dear bro with words but I know a bad situation when I see it....
Gayle, you're plenty eloquent. You said in your first sentence what I would take many paragraphs to say. Conciseness is a virtue I rarely possess.
I wonder how things are for Aunt Harriet and the others? They are not in the way but I bet the refugees are filling up their town. Don't know if you remember her. We lived with them for a while when you were very little. And then mom took us back for a visit when I was 14. Was very strange.
Your comments seems like a good complement to this article in the Globe and Mail: Nasty, brutish... The spirit of "Someone Else's Problem" seems robust and thriving in 21st Century America.
A small correction
The flood control project you speak of, had it been properly funded wouldnt have been completed until 2008 according to the schedule laid out. So, basically, that money would have been lost. Hindsight is always 20/20. Now the SciAm article I'm fine with, but ye gods, you'd think it would be obvious if you situate a city below sea level and a HUGE hurricane hits you're going to end up being the Mayor of Waterworld barring some serious infrastructure investments.

Infrastructure investments that the current Mayor diverted into local welfare, otherwise his ass probably wouldn't have gotten elected so this is a very complicated situation to say the very least.

More important is that you probably arent aware that FEMA was recently told its no longer going to be doing distaster management/preparedness because there is supposed to be a new agency or somesuch created for this purpose. So yeah there is some blame for govt but categorically laying blame on just Bush is naieve and shortshighted at best.
Re: A small correction
I didn't know about the actions of the current mayor (do you have a source for that? I'm curious to read more), but it's been several years of of very limited funding for the levees. Had those years progressed with full funding, it's quite possible the levees might have held better than they did now.

For that, I quite happily blame the current administration's decision that an unprovoked attack that was won us the condemnation of most of the world was a better use of funds than taking care of business at home. This isn't just New Orleans. It's anywhere in the US where that money could have been used.

And if the Federal Emergency Management Agency is no longer supposed to manage emergencies, one might think it a bit short-sighted not to have someone else on hand to manage them.
Re: A small correction
Oh and the levees had been fully funded for the 37 preceeding years up to 2004.
I'm in agreeance with the main gist of your post, but there's somthing that I realized today that I hadn't even thought of earlier in the week, and that is the idea of someone being at fault to start with. Everyone will continue to point fingers at others to avoid being put in damnation themselves.

Someone commented today that she thinks it's bad that the government knows about these things (she used both the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks and the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina as examples), and yet they did not prevent them. I agree that prevention would have been much better for both situations, indeed our world would be much different now if neither had occured, but we must also give them a little benefit of the doubt. These are just two incidents that were known about in general beforehand, and not stopped. There are plenty of things of this nature that were known about - in general or specific - that have been prevented before occuring, so have not made the sensational news that otherwise would have happened.

There are also other problems that we know could occur now that have not been adequately addressed. The big three (direct, powerful hurricane in New Orleans, powerful earthquake in San Francisco, WMD attack in NYC) have been, and still are being talked about as possibilities, but you could also argue that not enough preperation is being given for the remaining two right now. The truth is, how much preperation is plausibly possible, and how much is enough are usually two different things entirely.
The problem ultimately is realizing that the task of making a good, safe society is never done. It will never be finished. Unfortunately, some decide not to start because of this. It's like someone who weighs 400 pounds refusing to diet because he's convinced he'll never get to the weight he was at in high school.

Another example is the interstate highway system. It was started decades ago but it will never be finished. We must constantly repair it, reroute it, build new on ramps and off ramps, etc. Yet no one denies the tremendous benefits it has brought our society.

So when Bush and friends decide to attack a basically unarmed country (which we had thoughtfully previously disarmed) and spent many billions of dollars to make the world safer for Big Oil, one has to wonder why he thought killing people was more important than helping out the "common people" he professes to care so much about.
That's true, I do agree that we should attempt something, rather than not at all. I just mean that some things we do attempt to stop, and are stopped, so they don't make the same news coverage as the tragedy that occurs from unpreparedness. Also, it's not as if Bush knew that this one event was more likely than some other thing to spend the money on, but it can be argued either way, on how much he knows, and how much he spends.