What has happened to our country? When did we become a nation who abandons our sick, our elderly, and our poor in the face of what everyone thought was, until the last minute, a Category 5 Hurricane? When did we become the kind of nation that tolerates that our elderly are dying and being left outside the Superdome like detritus? What would have happened if this man hadn’t come along? Would someone’s grandfather just be left out there, dead on a park bench? When did we become the kind of country that just leaves it’s poor and sick and old to drown in their own attics? I’m horrified.
This is how we’re organizing disasters? We just tell people there’s trouble coming, and then blame them when they can’t get out of the way? Have we become so insulated behind our gated communities that no one remembers what it’s like to be broke? To not have fifty bucks to fill the gas tank in the car you don’t even own so you can get out of town. Over on TPM Cafe, a reader notes that a lot of those people we just abandoned in New Orleans live on government checks, and those checks come in on the 1st of the month. The hurricane hit on the 29th. Have we become so rich and so soft that everyone has forgotten what it means to live paycheck to paycheck? What’s going to happen to all these people now that they’ve lost their jobs? I worked mostly hourly wage jobs until about five years ago, and I never had enough money to live a week or two, much less the 12 to 18 weeks the authorities are currently discussing without those wage jobs.
When did we go from waging a War on Poverty to waging a War on the Poor? All I can think is that this is what we get when we let the free-market ideologues take over our country. A world in which our old people die in disasters from which they could have been saved. A world in which the needy and less fortunate are considered absoltuely disposable. In which they are blamed for their own misfortune, despised for their bad luck, and in which a large proportion of our population seems to have turned a blind eye to their need.
And then Bush comes out this morning and says “I don’t think anyone could have anticipated the breach in the levees.” The Times Picayune has run an entire series of articles about how the authorities anticipated exactly such a breach, and how the Bush administration cut the funding for the prevention of exactly this event. Sounds like Bush’s rhetoric after 9/11 — “no one could have anticipated…” when they had intelligence that absolutely anticipated.
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