I've been digesting the calamity that was Katrina. While I haven't written anything here, it's not like I haven't been writing anything. Mostly, it's been an e-mail discussion with a friend and the occasional comment on other blogs. Frankly, I'm disgusted with the coverage I've seen which tries to pin the blame for the "slowness" of the disaster response on the federal government, especially regarding the flooding of New Orleans and the heartrending pictures of those thousands of people trapped in the city, suffering from hunger and thirst in the heat. As I've written elsewhere, the fault for this disaster lies primarily with the state and local governments, who were totally incompetent and bungled this situation at the cost of thousands of lives. It also lies with those who were too complacent or too foolish to evacuate with a potential Category 5 storm bearing down on them. Don't tell me that they couldn't get out; I've seen far too many people still being coaxed from their flooded homes as their cars lie drowned in their driveways. And we've all seen the pictures (haven't we?) of the motor pool parking lots where the hundreds of school buses were parked, also drowned, and the dozens of NORTA city buses, also drowned, which could have been used to evacuate the city's poor and carless. Instead, they went to the modern day Black Hole of Calcutta, the Superdome and environs, which had no food or water on hand for the hapless crowds that showed up. The City of New Orleans had a disaster plan, which was not followed, and was totally inadequate for the situation in any case. And hundreds, perhaps, thousands, are now dead because of that fact.
Ultimately, it comes down to this: Many of the poor people of New Orleans had been dependent upon government largesse their entire lives. That's not the sort of thing that encourages people to look out for their own self-interest, because they expect the government to look out for them. Well, the government let them down, and that's the lesson we all should learn from this tragedy: IF YOU TRUST YOUR FATE TO THE GOVERNMENT, YOU WILL EVENTUALLY BE LET DOWN. And that's local, state and federal. You have to look out for yourself.
Finally, I heard a lot of "What took so long?!" when the National Guard showed up with food and water on Thursday morning, about 96 hours after the hurricane made landfall and less than 72 hours after the levees failed, drowning much of New Orleans. Well, folks, that is NOT a long time for the feds to get those relief supplies together, stage them and then bring them in on guarded military convoys. The logistics involved would probably boggle your mind, if you knew about them. And anyone with any sense who lives in an area where hurricanes hit KNOWS that you're probably going to be on your own for at least 3-4 days after a major hurricane hits your area, and plans accordingly. If you don't have enough food and water to last for three days or longer, then you're just begging to suffer if disaster hits.
I saw those poor people suffering on the overpass on Wednesday and I wondered, "Why don't they just drop a couple of pallets of bottled water and MREs onto that overpass?" And then, after thinking about it for a moment, I knew the answer: Because there would have been a stampede for the supplies if there was not someone armed with an M-16 to hand them out. Remember that little stampede on the Baghdad bridge where almost a thousand people died? Well, it would have been something like that, and then we'd hear stuff like "See! George Bush hates black people so much that he drops supplies on the bridge to make them stampede and kill each other!" And don't tell me we wouldn't have heard just that. You know the sort of silliness that the press has been putting out. The funniest thing I read was some idiot named Randall Robinson, a "civil rights activist," who last week claimed that the poor starving black people were being forced to eat the bodies of the dead to survive, because George Bush and the federal government were so slow getting relief in to them. I just had to roll my eyes and laugh at the man's stupidity.
I liked this article by Ben Stein: Get Off His Back