Wednesday, August 30, 2006
A Year After Katrina: The Poor Gets Poorer
The President went and did his thing. Photo opportunities galore. Platitudes aplenty. As details emerge of what has actually been accomplished for reconstruction of New Orleans the consensus is clear -- very little. FEMA is not a scapegoat. Its ineptitude to cope and mismanagement of funds are glaring. "Bush again accepted responsibility for the botched federal response to Katrina. "The hurricane . . . brought terrible scenes that we never thought we would see in America," Bush told a friendly audience gathered at Warren Easton Senior High School. "Citizens drowned in their attics, desperate mothers crying out on national TV for food and water, a breakdown of law and order, and a government at all levels that fell short of its responsibilities."
The White House carefully chose the scenes it wanted to highlight on this, the anniversary of one of Bush's biggest political embarrassments. Warren Easton is the city's oldest public high school and, like others, shut down after the city flooded. It has reformulated itself as a charter school, with greater leeway to set its own rules and have its own board.
In anticipation of the president's visit, school employees scrambled to complete work on plumbing and electricity, according to the principal, Alexina Medley, and the entire first floor remained gutted. Still, Warren Easton will reopen next week a year ahead of schedule, with about 800 students expected to attend, about a third fewer than before.
Disaster Capitalism: how to make money out of misery - Naomi Klein, The Guardian. "The privatisation of aid after Katrina offers a glimpse of a terrifying future in which only the wealthy are saved"
The first step was the government's abdication of its core responsibility to protect the population from disasters. Under the Bush administration, whole sectors of the government, most notably the Department of Homeland Security, have been turned into glorified temp agencies, with essential functions contracted out to private companies. The theory is that entrepreneurs, driven by the profit motive, are always more efficient (please suspend hysterical laughter).