13 September 2005

Round-up of Katrina arguments

There're really not that many, and they all dovetail to a basic core philosophy:

"The liberal media exaggerated all/some aspects to find cause to criticize the president." Valid criticism is calling out emergency management officials who don't know the basic facts concerning the state of an emergency. This is a very surface-y argument that avoids the issues.

"State and local officials are equally culpable for the affects of the failed response." From most reports I've read, the federal government has the responsibility to take over when, and this is a primary rationale, states' resources are strained. Local officials screwed up, but to what degree? Those school buses would have saved many had they been deployed, but those same officials who screwed up also declared an emergency and requested help before the storm hit. Does that absolve the federal government of its responsibility? Or of their lack of follow-up? FEMA had ample time and an understanding of the destructive power of the storm and should have responded.

"Federal support in general and FEMA specifically is an extravagant entitlement. States are better able to respond on their own." This gets closer to the heart of the issue. Ignoring the expansion of government that we've seen with Bush, this administration represents itself as a proponent of small government. Any facet of non-military government spending will be looked upon with suspicion. And yet no state is an island: what effects one greatly will quickly cascade to others. It is in the best interest of the country as a whole to aid those states that are in trouble. Isn't it?

"This is what happens to poor people. Accept it." This sentiment goes hand-in-hand with the previous one but takes it to its moral conclusion. This is the "shit happens" approach and presumes that throwing government money to mitigate the problem would be to join in an endless cycle of waste. "There will alway be the poor and crippled who are unable to flee from harms way." When I hear some from the Christian right so brazenly defy Christian teaching in this manner, it makes me proud to be an atheist.

There seems to be no common ground. Either you believe that people are best suited to self-organize in a form distinct from the federal government in order to assist the needy, or you believe that the federal government already is that self-organization.

[ posted by sstrader on 13 September 2005 at 5:09:47 PM in Politics ]