masthead-highres

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Hurricane Relief Suggestion Box

I've not blogged the Katrina aftermath much, partly because I'm so disgusted I don't trust myself around a keyboard when I'm thinking about it, and partly because I have been assuming that most decent, clear-thinking people are thinking pretty much the same thing.

I guess I was wrong on the second count, at least, because The Paragraph Farmer has posted a list of Katrina-related suggestions by people who are, as far as I know, decent and clear-thinking, and I disagree with a far amount of these suggestions. So, I'm going to have a post with my running thoughts about Katrina, and if/as I update it, I may bump this post to the top.

First, before I blather on, remember that private donations are important. Instapundit has a list; go here if you want your donation up to $100,000 automatically doubled and are willing to give to the third largest disaster relief charity in the U.S., after the Red Cross and Salvation Army.

Now for the more argumentative stuff.

I wouldn't call my post, as Patrick did, "The suggestion box for Uncle Sam." (Sorry, Patrick.) I'd name it The Suggestion Box for Individuals, Followed by Organizations (Whether Non-Profit or For-Profit), Followed by Local Government, Followed by State Government, Followed - as a Last Resort and Probably Not Even Then -- by the National Government." (What's that? Patrick's theme is more concise? Well, maybe... but mine, if adopted, would save a lot of money.)

I wouldn't follow Hugh Hewitt's advice, as reported by The Paragraph Farmer, to "Establish a Center for the Study of Mass Casualty Events at Tulane University in New Orleans." If I have a long-term suggestion for Tulane University in New Orleans, it is this: Move. A "Center for the Study of Mass Casualty Events" based in a city that is a sitting duck for mass casualty events every 100-200 years (there could just as easily be another one next month as in 2017 or 2077 or 2111 or any year you pick out of a hat) is a perversity. One is either in favor of reducing mass casualty events or one is not. (If such a center were to be established, it could be entitled the "Center for the Encouragement of Mass Casualty Events.")

Hugh Hewitt's advice here however, makes 100 times more sense than Michael Savage's lunatic idea to "Impose price controls on gasoline for 90 days." Great idea, and I mean that with all the sarcasm my keyboard can muster. Let's ARTIFICALLY INFLATE THE DEMAND FOR GASOLINE as a way to deal with a gasoline supply disruption. REAL GOOD IDEA. Here's one only slightly dumber: Pray for rain in New Orleans.

Lew Rockwell's ideas, as related by the Paragraph Farmer in the post linked to above, make sense, except that the federal government, being soulless, cannot do penance.

Ed Shultz's idea for an "Adopt a Family of Hurricane Katrina Program" made sense, too - especially the fact that he appears to actually be working on making the idea a reality, instead of expecting George W. Bush to do it personally, and right now, besides.

I'll try to be nice to Patrick, since all this was his idea. I wonder, though, if his idea for a design contest for levees and pumps is needed. For all I know, Patrick has a degree in civil engineering (I sure don't), but don't we already know how to build these things? Isn't the real problem that we build in places that are dangerous while failing to ameliorate the dangers because doing so would cost money we'd rather spend on things that are not a matter of life and death?

"Relaxing the union rules" in the Gulf states makes sense, if it is necessary. (Strike that last: "Relaxing union rules" can never be unnecessary.)

Can't endorse another Civilian Conservation Corps. Federal employees don't rebuild the houses of every Tom, Dick and Harry who has a house fire... need I go on? Clearing roads of debris is an appropriate (local) government function.

Anything rebuilt in the especially dangerous hurricane zones (read: the "bowl" of New Orleans) should be built with private or local government money. If I seem harsh, remember this: Any federal money spent to rebuild New Orleans amounts to a tax-supported financial incentive to encourage people to live in a dangerous area. Such a program would be morally wrong. The French Quarter can exist without federal involvement and is small enough to be evacuated when necessary; anyone else who wants to live and work in the immediate "bowl" area can simply do it with his own resources, cognizant of the risks.

'Nuff criticism of other ideas. People making ideas are just trying to help and I should be nicer. Plus, my reactions assume a false reality; that is, one in which the federal government won't spend over $100 billion of our money on this. It will because it is expected, because it did this for the last hurricane and the one before that, so people start of expect the feds to swoop in take care of everything, the way Mommy did when we were two years old.

(Consider this: People who seem to hate George W. Bush also want him to be their Mommy. Are they twisted or what?)

Here are some ideas from me:

1) If you live in a ravaged area, and don't have financial resources (savings, employment, insurance covering losses), get a job somewhere else. Six months, a year or more elsewhere isn't the end of the world. Getting out of the devastated area for an appropriate length of time reduces demands for infrastructure there.

2) If you are elsewhere and run a business, hire a refugee (defined as "one who flees in search of refuge," yes, Americans can be refugees) if you can.

3) Those who can, which includes but is not limited to private employment services and job websites and charities, should help connect job-seekers with those who can offer employment. For example, Monster.com could let businesses browse the resumes of hurricane victims free of charge. (Yes, I realize few refugees, at this stage, have Internet access, but every bit helps.) Charities can play a big role here.

4) Plan for the worst next time and don't think it can't happen because we're Americans. I'm not just talking about government, but individuals. Plan to leave town when experts recommend it. Plan enough to have a place to go, and a way to get there. And, when the time comes, don't wait until the last minute.

5) If you still don't have the resources and ability to always be prepared to get out of town, move to an area with low storm/earthquake risk. Do this as a favor for your neighbors, who may later have to risk their lives to save yours.

6) If you have morals, brains, and good impulse control, buy a gun. If you lack any one of these, get rid of any guns you have and never get any more.

7) Local and state governments should get control of street crime during non-emergency times, because that's the only time it is possible. If it is necessary to use the National Guard, and to create tent cities to have enough prison space, do so. Civilized people don't always stay civilized in times of great stress and provocation, but uncivilized people can be counted on to be what they are. Law and order can create civilization in places where it is not flourishing.

8) Keep Lawrence Guyot off TV. (Sorry, I know he's a gnat and not worthy of a suggestion, but he's on Fox right now claiming that the Katrina response would have been "perfect" if New Orleans had been a predominately white city, and, according to Guyot, everyone in America knows it.)

9) Local and state governments should have very harsh penalties for looting.

10) Local and state governments should have enhanced penalties for violent crime during states of emergency. Very enhanced.

11) Local and state governments should eliminate the statue of limitations for all crimes conducted in an area under a state of emergency. A conviction 20 years from now is better than no conviction at all.

12) No plea bargains should be accepted for anyone who shot at rescue personnel or committed any crime whatsoever that had the affect of impeding rescue operations during a state of emergency. These crimes are very serious and the message must be sent that anyone who does anything like this can kiss his or her old lifestyle goodbye for quite a long time indeed.

13) Americans: Stop thinking bad stuff can't happen to you because you are Americans.

I have more but that's enough for now. Probably more than I should have written, actually.

Addendum: Coyote Blog has a picture that is worth a thousand words.

Addendum (9/6): The website www.disasterreliefideas.org has forums for discussions of disaster relief ideas. Check it out.

Posted by Amy Ridenour at 1:36 AM

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