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In The Wake of Katrina, Part IV

I’ve talked about before, and thanks to the new “Blasts from the past” section on the left, I went and checked it out again today. There I found this detailed event-by-event log of the unfolding of the disaster in New Orleans.

What I get from reading it is the gross incompetence of government in general: State Officials blocking Red Cross, Federal Officials “just finding out” about the 40,000 people in the convention center, Local Officials ordering the evacuation well after it would have been effective and the failure to follow disaster plans at all levels – if that would have even helped.

Take from it what you will, but here is what I take from it: Government generally does not work very well. I an no anarchist, but I believe as Thomas Paine said, “Government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state, an intolerable one.” In the Wake of Katrina, we see again and again government at its intolerable best, wallowing gloriously in its own incompetence.

Those that rely on government to protect them will never be safe.
Those that trust government to save them will be left alone in their time of need.
Those that believe that government is the answer will only end up with more questions.

2 Responses to “In The Wake of Katrina, Part IV”

  1. nordsieck Says:

    Question: under what moral theory is the government (especially the federal government) responsible for getting the citizens of New Orleans to safty?

    I can understand stopping looters. I can understand repairing the dikes and draining the city (well, at least the city of New Orleans and possibly the state of Louisana governments). I can understand warning people about the dangers of staying in the city.

    What I don’t understand are all the claims (which seem to be accepted by everyone) that all levels of government are responsible for keeping people safe from themselves or from the environment.

  2. Ben McElroy Says:

    Theo, excellent point. I mean really, if we look at our particular government contract , the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, there’s a lot of emphasis on personal moral responsibility. There’s a good reason behind that…because ultimately, its a natural truth, that we are responsible for ourselves.

    Personally on the finger pointing at the federal government over this natural disaster is just sickening. It’s not like the President can just point a finger at the storm and say, “Go away” and everything is fine and dandy. Katrina became a human disaster when a corrupt and immoral local civic government failed to follow emergency plans (it seems like they didn’t have *any* plan which is a sure way to get into a disaster real quick), failed to ensure transportation and communication lines, and then failed maintain order. This then compounded the State government’s problem (equally corrupt and immoral by all accounts) who failed to follow emergency plans, failed to ensure transportation and communication lines, failed to maintain order (hello, martial law? that’s the governors job. and national guard? that’s the governor’s job)…and then they all look to the federal government who, for good reason because they aren’t supposed to by definition in the Constitution-state’s rights and sovereignty and all that- basically looks back and asks “how can we help?” And then doesn’t get a clear answer because everyone at the state and civic level refused to take responsibility and step up like a leader should. So there were delays. But you can’t fault the federal government for that. But if you went down to the individual level…well there were plenty of people who prepared correctly (either by evacuating or by planning well), and took responsibility for themselves and, although we don’t hear about them much (no human drama there for the media to exploit) I’m sure they did just fine and are doing just fine. Arghhh! It pisses me off the stupidity of the media and the cravenness of politicians looking to score easy political points…

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