9/06/2005

Katrina and The Blame Game

When Mick and Keith sang, "We all need someone we can lean on," they were just little off the mark. Judging by people's behaviour after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina they would have been far more accurate to sing," We all need someone we can blame". Not as poetic perhaps, but a good deal more accurate. Municipal officials blame the state, and the state blames the feds. The people on the ground blame everyone from the governor to the president. If you read the op ed sections of newspapers or a random sampling of blogs you'll find everything from foreign and economic policies to political partisanship under fire. The only thing that anyone seems to have stopped short of doing is blaming anyone specifically for causing the hurricane. Even an apocalyptic Christian site has warned that comments about Katrina being justice served would not be tolerated. For that, I suppose, we should be grateful, even if it falls under the heading of small mercies. Hurricane Katrina was horrible and the after effects are even worse. There are legitimate questions that need to be asked regarding response times to the crises and the condition that the levees were in prior to the storm. But is it fair to lay the blame for all of that at the feet of George Bush and his administration? Mr. Bush has long espoused the current conservative mantra of less government is better. From the moment he threw his hat into the ring for his first run at the presidency everyone's known where he stood. Tax Cuts at the expense of government programming. In the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York when Mr. Bush announced his intentions of beginning his War on Terror, did people not wonder where the money would come from? Or have they never asked how much does it cost to maintain two standing armies in the field, Afghanistan and Iraq? He won his first bid for president as a fiscal conservative, and was re-elected with the country running a huge deficit, involved in two wars, and spending heavily on Homeland Security. The one thing you can never accuse George Bush of is hiding what he is and what he stands for. But how many of the voices being raised in protest in the mainstream press right now said a word against him in the past three years? Where were all these "I told you so" voices when he was running for re-election? You knew what the results would be if you voted for, or endorsed the guy, yet now you're blaming him for doing what he promised. In Ontario, where I live, we had a provincial government that said they were going to cut spending across the board. Save on taxes, less red tape and so on. They won two majority governments by doing exactly what they said they would do. One of the things this included was eliminating provincial monitoring of municipal water supplies and testing results. Untrained individuals took over jobs that had formally been done by trained technicians. Everyone was shocked and horrified when a town's water supply ended up contaminated and people died of e-coli, and thousands more were sick. People who had voted for this man and his policies were shocked and outraged. "How could this happen?" They felt betrayed and cheated. Why? Nobody had lied to them; there had been no hidden agenda of secretly closing down offices. The government had simply done what they had promised to do in their election campaign. As with George Bush the people of Ontario knew what they were getting when they voted this party into power twice, yet they went ahead and did it anyway. It wasn't until things didn't go like they wanted that they blamed the government they had elected. The only thing George Bush is to blame for is taking advantage of people's gullibility. If you can show me one politician who can't be accused of that crime I'd be amazed. If people are looking for someone to blame than they better start learning how to use a mirror. You get what you pay for, or in this case what you vote for. You can say, well I didn't vote for him all you want, but did you vote against him, or just sit at home and not care. I don't remember, but I'm sure there was less then a 60% voter turn out in the last American presidential election. If you add on the number of people who didn't even register, I'm sure you'd find that barely half of those eligible even voted. If there are so many people who didn't vote Republican, how is it that they control both the Senate and the House of Congress? Somebody must have voted for them. Face the facts, this is the government you voted into power, and they are doing exactly what they said they would do. With a population of over 200 million, cities that are aging, and an infrastructure that is rapidly becoming dated, the United States of America needs to increase spending on domestic and social programs. The focus of the current administration has been to pull government, at least at the federal level, further and further away from that sort of commitment. It's policies like these that allow the circumstances that caused the flooding of New Orleans to develop. By pledging to implement these types of policies the Republicans have won control of the House, the Senate, and the White House. You can't really blame them for delivering on the promises you voted for, can you? cheers gypsyman

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