Jennifer's Journal


Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Blame Game

A recent article circulating on the web (An Objectivist Review by Robert Tracinski, The Intellectual Activist, TIA Daily) suggests that many of the more unsavory events that took place in New Orleans recently can be traced to the pernicious effects of the welfare state which robs people of initiative and destroys the value system and work ethic of those who are its beneficiaries.  Tracinski states:
"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.

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."
    As interesting as this exposition may be, I'm not sure it's the whole problem.  The simple truth is that a lot of the people from "the projects," in New Orleans and elsewhere, work daily to escape them and many are sunk in apathy because they can find no way out.  Then let's be realistic; all human beings are, at their central core, animals.  Threaten some of them, and they will join together and fight the common enemy.  Threaten others, and they turn vicious, taking advantage of the weakest around them.  Still other become whiners out of fear, being too incapacitated by it to save themselves.
    Beyond this, I'm more than tired of the whole finger-pointing thing that's going on, as if there is no such thing as a "natural" disaster, as if everything that happens has to be someone's fault or directly traceable to some error of the system.  The events in New Orleans constituted a movable disaster--it started much as usual for a hurricane hit but kept expanding day by day until it was almost impossible to get a handle on it.  The main culprit was not Katrina but the failure of the levee system.  This had been predicted as a possibility during a major hurricane--but the city had avoided it for nearly 300 years so there was no reason to suppose it would happen in 2005.  What occurred as a result was tragedy on an unprecedented scale.  And yet it's clear that the more terrible aspects were blown out of proportion by the media.  Disaster, destruction and unlawfulness make dramatic stories which fill air time and cause people to stay glued to their TV sets while commercials run.  What we saw, over and over, were pictures of houses with water to their rooftops and people waiting to be saved.  Very little was shown of the French Quarter or the Garden District which were both essentially dry--and these two historical areas form the most valuable real estate in the city, the areas which account for its unique character.  We constantly saw people looting, shooting, and dead bodies lying unclaimed--but few pictures of the thousands of area residents who--beyond the police and firemen whose job it was respond--converged on the city in private boats and helicopters to save people.
    Order has now been restored in New Orleans and the pumps, a percentage of them anyway, are running, the water going down.  The cleanup is beginning.  Let's forget the blame game and get on with returning this grand and historic city of "dreamy dreams" to its former glory.       


Blogger Temperley said...

I am sick of it as well. This country has grown so divided it can't even help those in need without trying to point fingers at the other side. It's really, really very sad and tiering. It's gotten to the point where in America, if you have an opinion, it's a given that you'll blindly detest the opposition.

4:36 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Blake said...

Exactly, Sienna. Thanks for posting.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Being from north Louisiana myself, I have seen these "projects" people are placed in and I agree that it gives one the feeling of helplessness and apathy towards any hope of escape. But these people here also have the word of God to get them through; the candle unto thy feet, if you will. But, then again, it seems the only place these candles burn brightest are in the smaller close-knit towns where the church has a finger on the pulse of the community. These small towns still offer a touch of love and hope that is seemingly lost on those cities the size of NO; hence, people here know right from wrong and choose to toe the line.
But given the size of modern US cities, it is easier for the system to become defunct in a short spate of time and the situation one has in NO can take on a demonic life of its own. People with values are at a premium during this time of crisis; yet, these saints are easily overwhelmed by the disorder so abundant in a metropolis stricken by natural chaos.
But then, again, how long can this unlawfulness last? As soon as the city becomes tenable again, these brigands will return once more to beneath the rocks from which they appeared. But I still believe that martial law is the only answer to the chaos which reigns there even as we speak. Though I may sound Draconian in my thinking, I believe the rule of law should prevail even if we have to line these criminals up and shoot every damn one of them, just to make a point! You may not agree with me, being female and all. But the alpha male in me tells me I have something here that most people really agree with. What do you think, Patty?
Signed, a JP native.

10:13 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Blake said...

I do agree martial law is best during events such as Katrina and its aftermath, Steve. And the sooner it's put into place, the better! I also believe that summary justice during such an emergency is, well, justified. If someone is beating and robbing a person who is trying to take shelter during a storm, then they are asking to be killed. Afterward, however, the normal judicial process has to be reinstated, even if we're not too sure the system works as it should. Anarchy is the pits--but then, so are police states.

9:39 AM  

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