It took four long days for state and federal officials to figure out how to deal with the disaster in New Orleans. I can’t blame them, because it also took me four long days to figure out what was going on there. The reason is that the events there make no sense if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster.
If this is just a natural disaster, the response for public officials is obvious: you bring in food, water, and doctors; you send transportation to evacuate refugees to temporary shelters; you send engineers to stop the flooding and rebuild the city’s infrastructure. For journalists, natural disasters also have a familiar pattern: the heroism of ordinary people pulling together to survive; the hard work and dedication of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers; the steps being taken to clean up and rebuild.
Public officials did not expect that the first thing they would have to do is to send thousands of armed troops in armored vehicle, as if they are suppressing an enemy insurgency. And journalistsâ€”myself includedâ€”did not expect that the story would not be about rain, wind, and flooding, but about rape, murder, and looting.
But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster.
The man-made disaster is not an inadequate or incompetent response by federal relief agencies, and it was not directly caused by Hurricane Katrina. This is where just about every newspaper and television channel has gotten the story wrong.
The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did not happen over four days last week. It happened over the past four decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view.
The man-made disaster is the welfare state.
Great article, Great read. I highly recommend it.
People that rely on handouts in normal times will have no idea how to even function under bad conditions. When we train people to be reliant upon the state for all of their needs, when the state cannot help them you end up with tragedies like this one.
What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider “normal” behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don’t sit around and complain that the government hasn’t taken care of them. They don’t use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.
But what about criminals and welfare parasites? Do they worry about saving their houses and property? They don’t, because they don’t own anything. Do they worry about what is going to happen to their businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never worried about those things before. Do they worry about crime and looting? But living off of stolen wealth is a way of life for them.
Giving people ownership in their lives and communities goes a long way towards encouraging people to act more responsibly. I know for a fact, when I rent an apartment, I treat it differently then when I live in my own house. Why should I care what happens to something that I do not care about?
I have not seen anyone talking about this – just about the failure of the government to provide for these people. These people should be able to take care of themselves. After all, the federal government has been advising people to make preparedness kits for years now. But never mind that! Never mind that these people were under prepared to take care of themselves – they just ran into the night, assuming that the Great Government in the sky would save them – and they cried bloody murder (and murder) when that did not happen.
I am sickened by what happened there. I wish that it had been possible to move more quickly to save these people. However, if they had been at all ready, they could have saved themselves. That is the lesson that we need to take away from this. When it gets really bad – it’s not some higher power, it’s not some government – it’s your responsibility to do everything possible to be civil, civilized and take care of yourself.
All of that said and done – that is a lesson that we must learn for next time. What we need right now is to save the rest of the folks out there.