The Big Uneasy
I am continually stunned by the news from New Orleans. And continually stunned by our fearless leader. Who returned to Washington from his vacation this afternoon. And once again mouthed helpless platitudes in lieu of real leadership. The right things in term of relief are happening now, but why did it take so long? As shocking as the events unfolding in New Orleans are, they were not a total surprise. You would think with the possibility of this scenario, that there would be a quick response plan in place. Once again, the powerless in our society - the sick, the poor and the old - are shafted.
I'm reminded of Bush's response after 9/11. It seemed his initial response, as in this case, was woefully inadequate, and indicative of a lack of compassion or even simple comprehension of how serious things are. It seems it takes a lackey to pull the president aside and tell him 'Errr - you know this is kind of a big deal, and it would be politically expedient to seem like you are actually affected by this news'. Then he finally seems to do the things any leader should do immediately, a day or two too late.
Years and years of tinkering with the environment, of marshalling the Mississippi, of shaping the environment to fit our economic needs have excacerbated the dangers from hurricanes in New Orleans. The entire Gulf Coast has been sinking as the silt which is supposed to replenish the river delta ends up in the ocean. The incredible feats of engineering (the levees, the dams, the pumps) that controlling the Mississippi entail have been underfunded so the money can go - guess where? The war in Iraq. And the oil companies who benefit from this engineering effort? What are they doing now? Price gouging.
Oil companies have helicopters and ships to support their Gulf operations. Where are they now? Could they not use these resources to help the communities that provide their blue-collar workers? Though, to be fair, Chevron has contributed a $5 million donation to the relief effort.
I hate to sound cynical, but do you think there's a chance that a Halliburton subsidiary ends up with a contract to rebuild New Orleans? I would bet on it.