Wednesday, April 18, 2007

It's All Falling Apart

(Originally posted on on 9/4/05)

I would like to take a moment to offer my condolences and solidarity to the families in New Orleans who have lost loved ones and have had their lives ruined by Hurricane Katrina. We're all rootin' for you and hope you come out of this nightmare safely.

What people are starting to realize is that events like this hurricane are a wake up call for this country. The general feeling we all get is that natural disasters like this are "acts of God," and cannot be prevented or prepared for. Well, the former is true. You can't stop a hurricane. But you damn well can prepare for it.

It is starting to trickle out that federal funding for flood levies was cut last year to free up moola for (among other things) George Bush's tax cuts for the rich and the war in Iraq. I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Already all the right wing media assholes are turning into damage control mode in regard to this story. You can tell when an issue is being ignored by the major media when they do stories that report around it, i.e. focusing on logistical facts (as in there are X number of people here, Y number of people dead, etc) as well as doing "human" stories of the "one man's tale in the face of adversity" type. While these kinds of stories are interesting (and are designed to get the ratings by invoking emotional responses) they don't really do much to report on the why of the issue.

The real facts are this is the twelfth storm in the Caribbean to warrant being named this year. Twenty years ago you could expect three, maybe four hurricanes a year, with only one of them being a class five if you were unlucky. Not anymore. Why is that? Why is the weather acting all screwy all over the fucking world? Could it have something to do with, oh I don't know, GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE? Don't you think maybe now that we have massive storms destroying our costal cites every few years that it might be time to listen to what the scientific community has been saying for the last thirty years, that global fucking warming is real and it's time we got our heads out of our asses and did something about it?

Federal funding was cut for the canal and levy system in New Orleans. Hey, maybe that's why they broke down and the whole city flooded. Truth is federal funding has been cut across the board for everything, from health care, education, everything except the military and law enforcement. What we are seeing is the result of our national policies. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the damage from this hurricane wouldn't have been so great if some time and money were taken to fix up the infrastructure and evacuate all the people, in fact this hurricane probably wouldn't have happened at al if we took Global warming seriously in this country.

There really is no excuse for such widespread devastation in an American city like this. When an earthquake hit near my hometown in Northridge, California in 1994 the power was out for three days. There was looting and rioting, the national guard was called out. A 7.5 earthquake hit San Francisco in 1989 hundreds of people were killed and billions of dollars of damages was there result there too. When that Hurricane hit Florida two years ago there was widespread devastation. But none of those places were allowed to fall into utter pandemonium like New Orleans. Total chaos did not break out, there weren't gangs of drug addicts running around with guns afterward looting and pillaging, and there weren't people breaking into stores stealing food because they were desperate to survive. Because in each of those situations the authorities took the appropriate recovery steps immediately. Don't tell me this situation is different, it's not different. Yes, there is devastation here on a scale that outstrips all of the examples I've mentioned, but that's no excuse. There is no reason all those people had to languish in that stadium for five days without food and water. There is no reason people have to remain stranded on their rooftops and in their attics with water up to their necks. There should have been people there the next goddamned day. It's inexcusable.

Another thing we're hearing is that the people who were left behind were poor and didn't have cars, and thus couldn't' escape. So that's how we treat poor people in this country, just leave their asses behind huh? Don't have a car when the disaster hits? Then I guess it's tough shit for you, huh? It's not like they didn't know this storm was coming. They had a week to get those people out of there. How about commandeering some school buses and dragging those people the hell out of there the day before the storm hit? Another thing we're hearing is that a lot of these people were waiting until Friday (payday) so they'd have the money to travel. Sounds like a bullshit excuse a politician made to cover his ass, and it is. This is horrible and shameful at the same time.

It all adds up to the fact that things are starting to fall apart. The war is taking all of our money, killing our soldiers, and now people here are starting to feel the crunch. One major event like a hurricane has the power to destroy a whole city, to drive gas prices above $3.00 a gallon and fuck up the economy, destroy the 3rd largest port in the nation and throw us into chaos. What would happen if right now there was a major earthquake, or Mt. Saint Helens erupted, or a terrorist attack? What would happen if the Chinese took this opportunity, with our army abroad and our domestic forces in disarray to lob a few atom bombs at us, or say a more realistic scenario, move in on Japan, India, or Taiwan? What if there was a major outbreak of avian flu, or SARS, or some horrible bio-agent some terrorist bastard snuck into the country but was just waiting until we were at our weakest to nail us with it? We're heading straight towards a brick wall in so many ways it's not funny.

Make no mistake, this is not the last time this is going to happen. We're going to see more and more of this, the next time an epidemic strikes it's going to kill thousands instead of a few dozen, the next time an earthquake hits it's going to paralyze a city instead of a mere hiccup, the next time there's a terrorist attack there's going to be nationwide martial law. Because the criminals in charge refuse to take fucking responsibility for their own mistakes and it's starting to get through their heads that the system is going to collapse. But they won't go down without dragging us all down with them.

People are starting to realize our government in it's present corrupt state won't protect them. Notice I didn't say can't protect them, I said won't protect them. Because we have the most goddamned money, we have the best trained people in the world, we have technology so efficient and advanced that no other country can even touch us, our military is so strong and widespread that places like Saudi Arabia are protected by it, yet when the ball is in our court everything fucks up and nobody takes the blame. What the fuck.

Lately it seems people always talk about the future in hushed tones, like "Someday this and this is going to happen. When the shit hits the fan all of us are going to suffer" Here's a newsflash for you people: The shit is hitting the fan right now. It's not going to feel good to say "I told you so" this time. If we don't purge the criminal element out of our government and start getting shit on track we are going to be sorry. Do we have to get to a point where Katrina type hurricanes happen twenty times a year before we start doing something about it?

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