When the mayor of New Orleans was talking about the poor people of the city who didn’t have the means to escape, and gave the number at 100,000, it didn’t dawn on me at the time that in a city of 500,000 this means one in every 5 people didn’t have the means to escape the city when they’re lives were threatened. That’s 1 in 5.
How could we have ignored the South, the cities, the country to the extent where 1 in 5 lives in such poverty they don’t even have the means to travel a few hundred miles outside of town to protect their very lives?
Tom Negrino of Backup Brain talks about choices and how the same people who “chose” not to evacuate from New Orleans are the same ones who “choose” not to have health insurance:
The 2004 Economic Report of the President, which laid out the policy basis for HSA’s, argues that Americans have too much health insurance, and steps must be taken to make it more expensive to obtain health care (which would “make the market more efficient”). The report also argues that many people do not have health insurance because they choose not to, rather than because they are poor […] In the past week, we’re heard the Bush administration use the “they chose not to” line in another situation: they said that poor people in New Orleans and Biloxi “chose” not to evacuate out of the path of Hurricane Katrina. In both cases, the implication is that if you choose not to do something, you bear all the responsibility for any adverse consequences. But in the real world, neither group of poor people have or had any real choices. Many of the dead in New Orleans did not have the financial resources to get out of town (no car, no plane, train, or bus fare, no money for hotels), and many of the people who will die because they can’t afford health insurance are facing just as much of a lack of choice about the matter.
In other words, rather than address the problems, our current Administration’s beliefs are that people are poor because they choose to be poor. As such, they are no longer the responsibility of the collective.
This would then explain the Administration’s emphasis on terrorist prevention over natural disaster prevention and response at a federal level: terrorists attack regardless of wealth; in fact terrorists attack primarily because of wealth, and as such the people do not ‘choose’ to be victims of terrorism and are thus worthy of federal help. It isn’t the responsibility of the collective whole to provide assistance to states, no matter how poor the states are, for something the states and the people knew were going to happen. If the states ‘choose’ not to budget for such emergencies, and the people ‘choose’ to live in such areas, this is their responsibilty. Even if people are taxed, and heavily, at the federal level for funding organizations to provide emergency assistance, the resources would be more efficiently spent protecting our country’s assets. What are this country’s assets? Those organizations and people who ‘choose’ not to be poor; even if many of these same organizations and people are reponsible, directly and indirectly, for much of the poverty.
In other words, Bush and his cabinet are social Darwinists, where only the most fit and capable, or those with good family connections, should survive. This might reassure those who are concerned about the influence of Christian faith and values in government at the federal level–there is no evidence that Bush and his Administration, or Congress for that matter, adhere to the belief that it is the duty of Christians to help those less fortunate than themselves.