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Katrina exposes the failure of the welfare state

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  • Katrina exposes the failure of the welfare state

    This was posted on the immigration forum that I frequent - I wonder what anyone here thinks of the assessment that the violence that's been seen in New Orleans (with the rapes, looting and general lawlessness following the hurricane) somehow represents a 'man made disaster of the welfare state'.

    Personally I find the argument rather weak - to my mind at least, the complete breakdown of law and order is what has lead to this disaster, coupled with the failure of various levels of government to provide effective and immediate relief.

    I guess its easy to find some political rationale to explain the behaviour of desperate people placed into desperate and abnormal circumstances. The removal of law and order (and the perceived consequences for anti-social criminal behavior) essentially removes people's inhibitions about that sort of thing. I guess the question to ask is whether the looters, rapists and murderers were habitual criminals to begin with. Doubtless some are - but all of them!?



    September 5, 2005
    Unnatural Disaster: A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of the Welfare State
    By Robert Tracinski

    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 journalists—myself included—did not expect that the story would not be about rain, wind, and flooding, but about rape, murder, and looting.
    Article Continues Below

    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.

    For the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to behave in an emergency—indeed, they were not behaving as they have behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World country.

    When confronted with a disaster, people usually rise to the occasion. They work together to rescue people in danger, and they spontaneously organize to keep order and solve problems. This is especially true in America. We are an enterprising people, used to relying on our own initiative rather than waiting around for the government to take care of us. I have seen this a hundred times, in small examples (a small town whose main traffic light had gone out, causing ordinary citizens to get out of their cars and serve as impromptu traffic cops, directing cars through the intersection) and large ones (the spontaneous response of New Yorkers to September 11).

    So what explains the chaos in New Orleans?

    To give you an idea of the magnitude of what is going on, here is a description from a Washington Times story:

    "Storm victims are raped and beaten; fights erupt with flying fists, knives and guns; fires are breaking out; corpses litter the streets; and police and rescue helicopters are repeatedly fired on.

    "The plea from Mayor C. Ray Nagin came even as National Guardsmen poured in to restore order and stop the looting, carjackings and gunfire....

    "Last night, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said 300 Iraq-hardened Arkansas National Guard members were inside New Orleans with shoot-to-kill orders.

    "'These troops are...under my orders to restore order in the streets,' she said. 'They have M-16s, and they are locked and loaded. These troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will.'"

    The reference to Iraq is eerie. The photo that accompanies this article shows a SWAT team with rifles and armored vests riding on an armored vehicle through trash-strewn streets lined by a rabble of squalid, listless people, one of whom appears to be yelling at them. It looks exactly like a scene from Sadr City in Baghdad.

    What explains bands of thugs using a natural disaster as an excuse for an orgy of looting, armed robbery, and rape? What causes unruly mobs to storm the very buses that have arrived to evacuate them, causing the drivers to speed away, frightened for their lives? What causes people to attack the doctors trying to treat patients at the Superdome?

    Why are people responding to natural destruction by causing further destruction? Why are they attacking the people who are trying to help them?

    My wife, Sherri, figured it out first, and she figured it out on a sense-of-life level. While watching the coverage one night on Fox News Channel, she told me that she was getting a familiar feeling. She studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Chicago, which is located in the South Side of Chicago just blocks away from the Robert Taylor Homes, one of the largest high-rise public housing projects in America. "The projects," as they were known, were infamous for uncontrollable crime and irremediable squalor. (They have since, mercifully, been demolished.)

    What Sherri was getting from last night's television coverage was a whiff of the sense of life of "the projects." Then the "crawl"—the informational phrases flashed at the bottom of the screen on most news channels—gave some vital statistics to confirm this sense: 75% of the residents of New Orleans had already evacuated before the hurricane, and of those who remained, a large number were from the city's public housing projects. Jack Wakeland then told me that early reports from CNN and Fox indicated that the city had no plan for evacuating all of the prisoners in the city's jails—so they just let many of them loose. [Update: I have been searching for news reports on this last story, but I have not been able to confirm it. Instead, I have found numerous reports about the collapse of the corrupt and incompetent New Orleans Police Department; see here and here.]

    There is no doubt a significant overlap between these two populations--that is, a large number of people in the jails used to live in the housing projects, and vice versa.

    There were many decent, innocent people trapped in New Orleans when the deluge hit—but they were trapped alongside large numbers of people from two groups: criminals—and wards of the welfare state, people selected, over decades, for their lack of initiative and self-induced helplessness. The welfare wards were a mass of sheep—on whom the incompetent administration of New Orleans unleashed a pack of wolves.

    All of this is related, incidentally, to the incompetence of the city government, which failed to plan for a total evacuation of the city, despite the knowledge that this might be necessary. In a city corrupted by the welfare state, the job of city officials is to ensure the flow of handouts to welfare recipients and patronage to political supporters—not to ensure a lawful, orderly evacuation in case of emergency.

    No one has really reported this story, as far as I can tell. In fact, some are already actively distorting it, blaming President Bush, for example, for failing to personally ensure that the Mayor of New Orleans had drafted an adequate evacuation plan. The worst example is an execrable piece from the Toronto Globe and Mail, by a supercilious Canadian who blames the chaos on American "individualism." But the truth is precisely the opposite: the chaos was caused by a system that was the exact opposite of individualism.

    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. And 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.

    People living in piles of their own trash, while petulantly complaining that other people aren't doing enough to take care of them and then shooting at those who come to rescue them—this is not just a description of the chaos at the Superdome. It is a perfect summary of the 40-year history of the welfare state and its public housing projects.

    The welfare state—and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it sustains and encourages—is the man-made disaster that explains the moral ugliness that has swamped New Orleans. And that is the story that no one is reporting.
    http://realclearpolitics.com/Comment...9_4_05_RT.html
    Batman: It's a low neighborhood, full of rumpots. They're used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions.

    Robin: Gosh, drink is sure a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!

  • #2
    This fellow is either a cheap shill, or he has been very thoroughly brainwashed.

    LSN

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by L_Stearns_Newburg
      This fellow is either a cheap shill, or he has been very thoroughly brainwashed.

      LSN
      Indeed. Very much the case of an opinion largely divorced from reality.
      Batman: It's a low neighborhood, full of rumpots. They're used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions.

      Robin: Gosh, drink is sure a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!

      Comment


      • #4
        Do they worry about saving their houses and property? They don't, because they don't own anything.
        Unlike the propaganda machine that is FOX News. Sweden's bourgeoise newspapers do a fairer and better job at interviewing the poor people and why they stayed behind.

        There's a smear campaign of 'the welfare state' going on in the US, and elsewhere, I gather. I wonder what this guy thinks would happen if you cut off welfare to the american public? Freedom and individualism aka "responsibility". NO! You will expose the country to the forming of dangerous classes that will not let bullets or police stop them. If they thought the LA riots where nasty, just imagine this scenario. Maybe I'm wrong though.. What do you guys think?

        This guy goes with his wife's feelie 'hunches', not understanding the poor, the criminals, or the rich for that matter.

        "real clear politics"? My ASS!

        Comment


        • #5
          I think a resounding "BOLLOCKS!" is the only response. Some people are sick. :x
          \"...an ape reft of his tail, and grown rusty at climbing, who yet feels himself to be a symbol and the frail representative of Omnipotence in a place that is not home.\" James Branch Cabell

          Comment


          • #6
            Funny- there's no mention of a disenfranchised and alienated population falling apart when the notional supporting infrastructure is swept away.. One wonders how the rich and affluent would have coped if they had been left to flounder instead of those who could not afford evacuation.

            Someone once said we were only three square meals away from barbarism...

            ...and as a brief aside did anyone notice how the Superdome looked like a pressure cooker? And did you notice that they kept on saying New Orleans had collapsed into "anarchy" - they should be so lucky!! I've had an uphill struggle around here convincing people that Anarchy and social collapse are two entirely different things!

            By the way, has anyone out there seen the new Romero zombie flick, "Land of the Dead"? All looks a bit familiar now....
            Does it follow that I reject all authority? Perish the thought. In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the boot-maker.
            Bakunin

            Comment


            • #7
              Its an entirely baseless article - hell the guy offers no proof to back up what are essentially assumptions based on some rather racist generalisations.

              'The story that's not being reported' is not a real story. The author could doubtless cut out New Orleans, and insert any city (in any country) which were to undergo such a catastrophic disaster. It wouldn't change his central premise - that 'welfare is evil' and primarily responsible for creating the criminal element that exists in every society.

              I suspect the author is a little pissed that, yet again, the finger is being pointed at Bush and his beloved republican government. Somehow he feels its appropriate to pour scorn on the 'lefties' on the back of a national disaster, which State and Federal Government (and related agencies) badly mismanaged.

              Rather a cheap shot in my view.
              Batman: It's a low neighborhood, full of rumpots. They're used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions.

              Robin: Gosh, drink is sure a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!

              Comment


              • #8
                When you speak about leftists in america you mean 'liberals', correct?

                I hardly see the liberals as left..

                American conservatives are seemingly very paranoid about leftists. I fail to see why some people in my country have a hard-on for "american freedom" etc. When you are not free from fear. "Fear is the mind-killer!"

                Which is why I still stick to my statement.
                "Conservatives are stupid!"

                Comment


                • #9
                  I don't think it's a cheap shot. I think it's intellectually dishonest.

                  When the fellow was in school, I suspect he used to get beaten up frequently for such behavior.

                  LSN

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Theocrat
                    When you speak about leftists in america you mean 'liberals', correct?
                    Leftist-Liberals in the US are not the same as Liberals elswhere...generally speaking. Or, to be more specific, the most vociferous groups that term themselves "liberal" actually do not fall into the historic definition of the term. In fact, traditional liberals (those who favor high individual freedom, free-market, and minimal government), in the form of libertarians are generally classified as a kind of conservative because many of the basic liberal ideals were written into the US Constitution. The Liberals of the Left are really more of what the rest of the world would term socialist, but in the US that term is generally avoided because of its link to Marxism and more specifically Soviet style Communism, which is a ridiculous association, really.

                    So, when we refer to the left we are generally refering to those with largely socialist or sismondian philosophies calling for an increased government presence and a greater distribution of public monies back to the people in the form of basic welfare institutions (health care, education, general welfare, etc).

                    Um...ok, I was going to say something else after answering Theocrat's question, but it has completely slipped my mind.
                    "In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro"
                    --Thomas a Kempis

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by EverKing
                      sismondian
                      Never heard that word or definition before?

                      philosophies calling for an increased government presence and a greater distribution of public monies back to the people in the form of basic welfare institutions (health care, education, general welfare, etc).
                      Uhh.. So it's like Social-Democracy?

                      Um...ok, I was going to say something else after answering Theocrat's question, but it has completely slipped my mind.
                      I always hate it when that happens.. When you are calm and thinking of something else it just pops back into your head but then you are somewhere else and such. :|

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by EverKing
                        Originally posted by Theocrat
                        When you speak about leftists in america you mean 'liberals', correct?
                        Leftist-Liberals in the US are not the same as Liberals elswhere...generally speaking. Or, to be more specific, the most vociferous groups that term themselves "liberal" actually do not fall into the historic definition of the term. In fact, traditional liberals (those who favor high individual freedom, free-market, and minimal government), in the form of libertarians are generally classified as a kind of conservative because many of the basic liberal ideals were written into the US Constitution. The Liberals of the Left are really more of what the rest of the world would term socialist, but in the US that term is generally avoided because of its link to Marxism and more specifically Soviet style Communism, which is a ridiculous association, really.

                        So, when we refer to the left we are generally refering to those with largely socialist or sismondian philosophies calling for an increased government presence and a greater distribution of public monies back to the people in the form of basic welfare institutions (health care, education, general welfare, etc).

                        Um...ok, I was going to say something else after answering Theocrat's question, but it has completely slipped my mind.
                        Politics is weird in the US - a lot of people seem to be of the opinion that a liberal equates to a socialist or even a communist, there seems to be little middle ground in the broad spectrum of public opinion for anything less than extreme black and white interpretations.

                        Of course that probably says a lot about the sort of people that blindly accept unqualified opinions such as the OP article.
                        Batman: It's a low neighborhood, full of rumpots. They're used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions.

                        Robin: Gosh, drink is sure a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Theocrat
                          Originally posted by EverKing
                          sismondian
                          Never heard that word or definition before?
                          Those who make the arguments for governmental dispersal of money as suggested by the 19th centuray French historian Sismondi (Jean Charles Leonard Simonde de Sismondi). According to wikipedia, "He was not a socialist; but, [protested] against laisser faire and [invoked] the intervention of government 'to regulate the progress of wealth...'" Basically what you refered to as a welfare socialist, I believe.
                          "In omnibus requiem quaesivi, et nusquam inveni nisi in angulo cum libro"
                          --Thomas a Kempis

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by devilchicken
                            Politics is weird in the US.

                            Of course that probably says a lot about the sort of people that blindly accept unqualified opinions such as the OP article.
                            I gathered as much.
                            But why the blazes are americans taught this weird split when it isn't a split in the first place. Culture or propaganda. McCarthyism and Communist paranoia did it's thing I can tell.

                            "OP article"? You lost me there?

                            A liberal a communist? Now that is really something to snicker at.
                            Talk about a general lack of education.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              OP is message board jargon for Originating Post/er. Something of that nature...

                              Originally posted by Theocrat
                              Originally posted by devilchicken
                              Politics is weird in the US.

                              Of course that probably says a lot about the sort of people that blindly accept unqualified opinions such as the OP article.
                              I gathered as much.
                              But why the blazes are americans taught this weird split when it isn't a split in the first place. Culture or propaganda. McCarthyism and Communist paranoia did it's thing I can tell.

                              "OP article"? You lost me there?

                              A liberal a communist? Now that is really something to snicker at.
                              Talk about a general lack of education.
                              Batman: It's a low neighborhood, full of rumpots. They're used to curious sights, which they attribute to alcoholic delusions.

                              Robin: Gosh, drink is sure a filthy thing, isn't it? I'd rather be dead than unable to trust my own eyes!

                              Comment

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