Democrats & Liberals Archives

Katrina Opportunities

It’s true that our fearless leader is at his best when shifting blame to someone else. He himself takes the high road; he allows his underlings to spread the word that THEY did it. In the Katrina fiasco, THEY are the New Orleans mayor, the Louisiana governor, the environmentalists, the victims themselves, and liberals in general. Nevertheless, there are conservatives as well as liberals who see oportunities to put our sad experiences of Katrina to good use. They are presenting ideas that may help rebuild the lives of Katrina victims and at the same time make America the compassionate country it once was.

We have a blame game going on and there is no reason for this game. The blame for the Katrina fiasco belongs to George W. Bush, the man in charge of the country. Yes, many officials, local, state and federal, made very serious mistakes. Nevertheless, the blame belongs to Bush. He is responsible for the safety of this country and the safety of a million people was jeopardized. There is no way to argue away this fact.

How Bush accomplished the task is unimportant. But it is obvious, he did not make good choices for Homeland Security and for FEMA. It is obvious that the levees and other infrastructure of the country was neglected. It is obvious that there was no plan for coordination of activities of local, state and federal bodies. It is blindingly obvious that Bush is the only one to blame. There is no need for a blame game.

This is the dark side of things. Maybe we should start looking at possible bright sides. How do we rebuild? Here are 2 suggestions, one from a liberal and one from a conservative. The liberal is Katrina vanden Heuvel, who goes for her inspiration back to FDR's New Deal:

"Here's one answer: Let's seize this moment by launching a twenty-first-century New Deal--with programs modeled after the Works Progress Administration, updated for these times. Why?

"A modernized version of the WPA would help our nation to rebuild New Orleans and Mississippi's Gulf Coast, and repair the racial and class divides that we saw in such dramatic relief these past few days. It would rebuild and improve our nation's public infrastructure and (hopefully) alter the terms of our political discourse in the years ahead."

She adds that the WPA did a lot of good:

"The WPA, according to historian William Leuchtenburg, "built or improved more than 2,500 hospitals, 5,900 school buildings, 1,000 airport landing fields, and nearly 13,000 playgrounds."

I think this is an excellent idea for helping the victims and also society at large. Even conservative David Brooks feels we now have a chance to improve our society. In his article in The N.Y. Times, he says:

"That's why the second rule of rebuilding should be: Culturally Integrate. Culturally Integrate. Culturally Integrate. The only chance we have to break the cycle of poverty is to integrate people who lack middle-class skills into neighborhoods with people who possess these skills and who insist on certain standards of behavior."

Let the poor mingle and learn from people in the middle class. Sounds great. Maybe we can combine the WPA idea with the cultural integration idea - and call the result non-partisan.

It's time for Congress to do something for current victims of Katrina AND possible victims of future disasters. Congress needs to pass a lot of legislation to lift us out of our current hole. And this legislation will call for spending a lot of money. We must call a halt to tax cuts, and maybe rescind some tax cuts already instituted. We need to spend a lot more - for the sake of NATIONAL SECURITY.

Posted by Paul Siegel at September 8, 2005 6:02 PM