It has taken 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 has also taken me four long days to figure out what is going on there. The reason is that the events there make no sense if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster.Hey! I bet NO Mayor Ray Nagin is a hoot at Mardi Gras!
My wife, Sherri, figured it out first, and she figured it out on a sense-of-life level. While watching the coverage last 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 the 300,000 or so who remained, a large number were from the city's public housing projects. Jack Wakeland then gave me an additional, crucial fact: 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. 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 apparent incompetence of the city government, which failed to plan for a total evacuation of the city, despite the knowledge that this might be necessary. But 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.
Update: On a related note - Australian hero of Horrordome:
BRISBANE man Bud Hopes was lauded as a hero for helping save dozens of tourists as the supposed safe haven of the city's Superdome deteriorated into a hell-hole.More on how they managed to survive by following the link. What a complete and utter embarassment. I guess they don't call Ray Nagin, NO Mayor, for nothing. I hope he was comfy in Baton Rouge.
Mr Hopes, 32, from Kangaroo Point, said: "That was the worst place in the universe.
"Ninety-eight percent of the people around the world are good ? in that place 98 per cent of the people were bad.
"Everyone brought their drugs, they brought guns in, they brought knives. Soldiers were shot in there."
Realising that foreigners were being targeted, Mr Hopes and fellow Aussies gathered other tourists into one part of the building.