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Lady Liberty

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.


Thursday, September 01, 2005

I Demand to Know Why This Disaster Isn't Being Run More Smoothly
posted by Bathus

Katrina has brought a disaster of an intensity never before experienced in this country.

Certainly in terms of physical and economic damage, perhaps in terms of loss of life and perhaps even in terms of the psychic blow to the body politic, 9/11 was by comparison a gentle autumn rain.

A great part of the man-made portion of this disaster (and in every disaster there is a man-made portion) stems from the fact that so many people did not heed the mandatory evacuation order. Although I am sure there are exceptions, I am not buying the excuse that most lacked the wherewithal to leave. Most of those who stayed behind did so, not because they had no choice, but because they made an astoundingly bad choice--one that put their own lives, and the lives of their rescuers, at grave risk. But their bad decisions are water over the dam now. One hopes that all this will count as one of the lessons learned so that if there is, heaven forbid, a "next time," the authorities will enforce and implement their evacuation orders more vigorously. But enough of that--there'll be plenty of time for recriminations later.

At this stage I don't think it's fair, or helpful, to waste time laying blame on the authorities and political leaders who have the unenviable responsibility for trying to bring order out of chaos. In the few group crises I've experienced in my life, I've observed that the most useless people--the ones you just want to throttle and toss overboard--are the ones who are constantly bitching about how incompetent the leadership is. The only thing these whiners accomplish is to make everyone angry at everyone else and to make others feel more helpless, lost, and miserable than they are already. The best use to make of such people (assuming one is not permitted to give them a massive injection of thorazine) is to sit them down well off to the side where they can't get in the way, give them a box of pencils and a fat spiral notebook, and tell them that they have been specially selected for the very important assignment of making a list of everything that is totally screwed up.

Their list might actually come in handy later.

But right now there isn't time to have an election to choose new leadership. We are stuck with the fallible humans we have collectively put in charge. So instead of bitching about the people in leadership positions, it would be better if we all try to refrain from carping, find a way to be useful, or at least provide moral support to the ones who are trying their best to make things better, give calm and constructive advice if in a position to do so, and pull together instead of apart.

If you can't do that right now, then kindly please do shut the hell up.

Yes, we've noticed things are screwed up. We had heard that disasters usually don't run smoothly, but thank you so much for reminding us. Yes, all sorts of things that should have been done, both before and after this disaster struck, were left undone or done in a way that now looks ridiculous. Yes, even now all sorts of things that could be done differently aren't being done exactly the right way at exactly the right speed. Yes, it's pandemonium. We'd really appreciate it if you would try not to add to it. If you've got an idea that might work better, let's talk it over quickly and quietly, without getting bogged down on who's to blame for this or that.

Whatever you do, don't you dare start agitating about race and class. If you do that, then as far as I'm concerned you're worse than the street looters. In a time of crisis, you brazenly loot the stores of the public trust to haul off a garbage bag full of ephemeral political trinkets. I hope you drown under the weight of it in hell's molten brimstone.

The right steps to take in a crisis always seem obvious to people who have no responsibility for getting something done in that crisis. Decisions are easy when nothing depends upon them. So if pointing out the leaderships' failures is the only contribution you have to offer at the moment, then come sit over here in this quiet corner where there's a big box of pencils with your name on it.

¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤ ¤

[Note: Because small businesses collectively provide the majority of jobs, the re-opening of small businesses will be absolutely crucial to the long-term recovery of regions affected by Hurricane Katrina. If you'd like to help small businesses put their people back to work as quickly as possible, please consider contributing to the Small Business Disaster Relief Fund. Further information is available here.]

posted by Bathus | 9/01/2005 08:52:00 PM
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Anonymous Edward Ames Cabot III said...

Yeah, sure, sure, many of the fatalities will be the fault of those who found it difficult to leave everything they had and run somewhere. Still, they've paid the price of their stupidity, haven't they? And many of them wouldn't have been Republican voters anyway, so that's all right.

12:47 PM, September 02, 2005  
Blogger Bathus said...

Yes, it appears that many of them have indeed "paid the price of their stupidity." It is very saddening that their very poor decision cost them their lives. But, if history is any guide, even after death, they will continue to vote for Democrats in the next several elections.

2:43 PM, September 02, 2005  
Blogger P-BS-Watcher said...

Good advice except it doesn't sell newspapers or move anyone's political agenda. See Utility

9:50 PM, September 02, 2005  
Blogger Bathus said...

Yes, p-bs-watcher, it looks like you are right. The demagogue storm has already reached a CAT 4, and we can't expect that ill wind to be letting up any time soon.

How naive of me to think it might have been otherwise.

11:25 PM, September 02, 2005  
Blogger P-BS-Watcher said...

Anyway, the cost is too great. See I'm joining the left

10:08 PM, September 04, 2005  

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