Sunday, September 04, 2005

postal scrotum: Katrina, government, and Bush

Andrew R. writes:

Hi Kevin,

Good post re: Katrina. Here are some thoughts. I've kept it civil and to the point, but left out other references and quotes - just my thoughts as they are.

I've limited the scope of discussion to: the Federal Gov't, the Mayor and the Governor. There are additional comments for just about everyone else, but for the sake of simplicity - here's the short version.


You wrote, "Do guns increase your chances of survival? I'm beginning to wonder whether the question has been phrased correctly."

I think you've summed up the problem with the gun discussion (and many other arguments). Namely, the 2 sides are arguing different/unrelated sides of a complex issue.

My take on it all: a gun levels the playing field of defense in a lot of situations, especially urban. The grandmother and small child [who were] recently attacked 3 houses down from my place yesterday are an example of that. One clinically-crazy woman in her prime attacked (and whooped on) some fairly weak people. But grandma was strong enough to wield the hardware to... end the struggle before it began.

Whatever scenario of good-guy/bad-guy, armed/not-armed you want to run - the best situation involves "good-guy = armed". It's not perfect, and it's not a 100% chance of a Happy Ending, but it beats a guaranteed Bad Ending. I think the nay-sayers of guns often miss the point about there being no 100% guarantees in life.

More to the point, the nay-sayers of self-defense want the gov't (or someone) to make life a wonderful bowl of cherries. But since life doesn't work that way, people have to make the best of the hand they've [been] dealt and work to improve their lot. That's a hard lesson to accept - just like a lot of life is.


Kos wrote, "This week, we are seeing the effects of the lack of government." Wrong. We're seeing the lack of civilization among some feral people.

New York City lost power a few summers ago; the people didn't go bananas there. Nagoya, Japan was flooded by a hurricane a few years back - they didn't burn buildings. What happened with [Hurricane Katrina] is the bad folks lost what little motivation they had to not be savages.

It's popular to 'blame Bush' for the failure of the Federal Gov't in helping folks. But it's also 99% wrong. Gov't incompetence existed before 2000 A.D. Bush isn't the emperor of all, and he isn't responsible for the failure of local gov't bodies, any more than he's responsible for folks like Robert Mugabe.

Could the Feds have jumped in faster? You bet - sorta. The Feds should have been a supplement to the local/state agencies which had their sh*t together - but that didn't happen.

The real failure of gov't was local, namely the Mayor. Emergency plans exist in most towns, and the meltdown of New Orleans is just pathetic. But Bush isn't responsible for that failure any more than he is for my bad grade in Chemistry in high school.


You wrote, "I do, however, wonder how people on the right would respond to Kos's first paragraph."

The paragraph:

We have two competing world views in American politics. The first says that government cannot help people. That government must be as small as possible, and exists only to provide security from external enemies. The other says that government can be a force for good and can help make people's lives better.

Kos entirely missed the middle ground on this point. The Federal Gov't is great for Really Big Things, namely militaries, building national freeway systems, and providing large-scale aid in situations like this. When Hurricane Andrew hit, having an organization as big as the Federal Gov't is (I hate to say this) a pretty good option.

Sure, big gov't has its own inertia/incompetence issues. But for really big things, it needs to step in. As I mentioned above, a BIG problem for the Feds in New Orleans was having no local situation to supplement. And that failure is due to the locals & the governor.

So the gov't is great when it works well. But it didn't in New Orleans. And that failure wasn't due to the Unmitigated Evil of Bush™. It was largely due to a group of lackluster folks posing as Local Gov't, Mayor and Governor.


1 comment:

  1. "The real failure of gov't was local, namely the Mayor. Emergency plans exist in most towns, and the meltdown of New Orleans is just pathetic. But Bush isn't responsible for that failure any more than he is for my bad grade in Chemistry in high school."

    Amen to that. As I said over on my blog, this is something that should have been planned out, especially since authorities have been warning for years what could happen in New Orleans if it got hit by a big storm.
    Granted, some of the best plans go to shit when something like this does happen because no one can foresee every conceivable eventuality but the way the whole thing was handled after the storm smells of inteptitude.
    I read somewhere that the fleet of buses that would have been used to evacuate people was itself flooded out - whose bright idea was it to park them in an area that could be prone to flooding if the levees gave way?
    As for the poor, impoverished folks left behind by the man...ah, let me stop before I go off into a rant.



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