Does Race And Economics Have Anything To Do With The Response To Katrinas Devastation In New Orleans

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by severian28, Sep 1, 2005.

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  1. severian28 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 1, 2004
    star 5
    This seems to be the hot commentary from both the left and the right on network and cable news tonight. I fully expected this to be explored but not so soon. Keith Olberman on MSNBC has deviated from his centrist, somewhat light hearted commentary and has swung to the left. He scathingly criticized all levels of the goverment and both parties because of the response time in New Orleans and the chaos there right now as well as slamming the President for not cutting his vacation short by one day. He cannot help wonder if a richer area was devastated if the reaction would have been much different. He went on to lambast Rush Limbaugh for suggesting that race and economics has nothing to do with the disconnected response from local and federal goverments, and that " these " people werent bused into New Orleans and should have known better then to stay, clearly not thinking of people that have lived there there entire lives, people who couldnt leave, or the youngsters involved. He defends the people who are looting for food and water for their families ( I agree ) - while O'Reilly asks why the authorities arent " shooting down " the looters. New Orleans is a predominantly black community with a high level of poverty. What do you think?


  2. jaya02 Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 12, 2002
    star 4
    Race, economics, and politics have definitely played an important role in the response to Katrina's devastation. Like with the news coverage of white victims, it's no so important when coloured people are the victims. Face it, the American federal government is made up mostly of white, old men, who are mostly republican, and couldn't find it in their wallets to cut their vacation short for poor, black people who are dying. Are you surprised?
  3. J-Rod Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
    Olberman is behaving like a defender of class warfare, IMO.

    At the moment it is not a crime to take food from the stores in N.O. That's not looting, it's surviving.

    But starting fires, robbing and burning homes, stealing TV's, raping and beating people...these are crimes. And in this setting they should be dealt with immediately and finally, IMO.

    Ain't got crap to do with race.

  4. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2001
    star 7
    I think economics plays the bigger role. Not race. And not everything is a race issue. People who usually see race as an issue, I've found, are racists on the same level of the KKK.
  5. severian28 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Apr 1, 2004
    star 5
    At the moment it is not a crime to take food from the stores in N.O. That's not looting, it's surviving.

    But starting fires, robbing and burning homes, stealing TV's, raping and beating people...these are crimes. And in this setting they should be dealt with immediately and finally, IMO.



    Absolutely, well said.
  6. J-Rod Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
  7. son_of_the_tear Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 23, 1999
    star 5
    So I guess I can't consider looting an Xbox survival? I mean, it can possibly feed me :p
  8. J-Rod Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 28, 2004
    star 5
    So I guess I can't consider looting an Xbox survival? I mean, it can possibly feed me

    Well...ya can, but I'll give ya some lead to go with it. ;)
  9. Loopster Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2000
    star 4
    Ok, what the hell is going on there?

    America, the richest and most powerful economy on Earth can't get people out of the storm damaged and flooded area faster than this? Why does American society degenerate to the lowest possible standards in a crisis these days?

    I know it's a huge disaster, but shouldn't people be helping each other out rather than going on a massive crime spree? What's with the shoot to kill orders of the Arkansas National Guard? Shoot to kill? In America?

    George Bush flew over the damaged area in Air Force One. Can't he have flown over in a helicopter? What the hell can you see from the window of a 747?

    This is shocking not just because of the massive destruction caused by the hurricane but by the reaction.
  10. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    First off, I'd be careful with the massive generalizations. They are easy to make, but they don't really capture the complexity of a specific crisis.

    It's not American society that has degenerated. It's not even all of New Orleans that has degenerated.

    Keep in mind that around 1.3 million people were safely and securely evacuated from the greater New Orleans area. This happened because everyone worked together.

    Since the city does sit below the water level, Louisiana focused on evacuation rather than "fighting in place." That's quite an undertaking right there, which represents the result that the city planned for.

    Remember, the city told people 2 days before the hurricane hit that if they stayed, they were doing so at their own risk. The fact that 100,000 people wouldn't, or couldn't evacuate doesn't represent the totality of the circumstance.

    Yes, for those who stayed, the situation degenerated into a period of lawlessness and survival, but that too will stabilize as resources are allocated to the situation.

    What's with the shoot to kill orders of the Arkansas National Guard? Shoot to kill? In America?

    What do you mean? Regular police officers have authority to shoot to kill to prevent violence or when faced with deadly force. Why would the National Guard, which is acting as an extension of law enforcement, be held to a more restrictive standard? What would you have them do, use harsh language?

    It's simple. If you don't want to be shot by the National Guard, don't run around with a weapon attacking people.

    George Bush flew over the damaged area in Air Force One. Can't he have flown over in a helicopter? What the hell can you see from the window of a 747?

    I'm missing your point here. I suppose he could have flown over in a hot air balloon, but it wouldn't have changed the situation.

  11. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    If there's a race/socio-economic issue, my question is: how was the evacuation handled.

    If most of the remaining people in New Orleans are poor blacks, why?

    Louisiana ordered the evacuation of New Orleans. What efforts were made in the hours before Katrina hit to help the people who could not afford to leave on their own evacuate.

    In retrospect, it would have been a lot more cost effective to have done a massive free bus evacuation for the city's poor before the Hurricane than it is now to do it after the city has been demolished.

    This is something emergency planners are really going to have to add to their planning scenarios. What does an evacuation order mean to someone who doesn't have the economic resources to comply?
  12. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    Unfortunately, natural disasters do tend to provide opportunities for people to misbehave. After the tsunami disaster, there was a nice little trade in the illegal adoptions of orphaned children to childless couples.

    But I guess you also have to consider why some people chose to ignore the evacuation directives in the first place - could it have been to loot the (largely) evacuated city with all of its nice shops? I am sure there are some that couldn't comply or whatever reason, but I'm also equally sure that some chose to stay.

    I suppose that could have something to do with economics - the economics of opportunism.
  13. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    I don't doubt at all that some people deliberately rode out the storm in the hopes that afterwards they would be the first ones out looting the city.

    But I think that is a tiny minority compared to the number of people who had no way out of the city: didn't own a car, didn't have a credit card or enough cash to afford a single night in even the cheapest hotel, etc. Clearly, some people, a lot of people, clearly thousands of people, couldn't see how they could afford to evacuate.

    What was done to help them get out of the city? What could have been done?

    After this is all over people are going to realize that the Louisiana state and municipal governments failed the entire nation by failing to plan for a way to evaucate New Orlean's poor. A serious evacuation effort that did more than simply order people to leave might have saved countless lives, and might have saved millions of dollars in search and rescue costs and drastic relief measures.
  14. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Louisiana ordered the evacuation of New Orleans. What efforts were made in the hours before Katrina hit to help the people who could not afford to leave on their own evacuate.

    In retrospect, it would have been a lot more cost effective to have done a massive free bus evacuation for the city's poor before the Hurricane than it is now to do it after the city has been demolished.


    I don't know. That's a good question, but one which I suspect doesn't have an easy answer.

    When the final mandatory evacuation order came out, it was still some 24 hours before the storm hit. The Greyhound bus line services New Orleans. Amtrack train services New Orleans. No, they weren't free, but I think you can pick up a Greyhound ticket for 20 dollars.

    I don't remember hearing about a final mad dash to utilize any of those services. Why would that be? I suspect the people who made the decision to leave, had already left. The people who had decided to stay did so. As LOH points out, why would the rest choose to stay? I don't think they were planning ahead to loot, but maybe it was out of stubborness mixed in with a feeling of invincibility?

    I wonder had there been free bus rides out of the city, how many of those who decided to stay would have used them? It would certainly make for an interesting study of human behavior.
  15. Loopster Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2000
    star 4
    The shoot to kill orders are against "hoodlums" and looters. What are their rules of engagement/enforcement? Are the National Guards trained police or trained soldiers? Of course a policeman can shoot to protect themselves or others, but this order isn't about self protection.

    Then there's the difference between you and I because I'd like to think that the leader of my country would spend a bit of time in the area, rather than simply flying over it in a jumbo jet. It's not an attack on Bush, just that I'm surprised that the President didn't spend time in the actual area, on the ground or in a chopper.

  16. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    What was done to help them get out of the city? What could have been done?

    It does potentially create a problem for the city though Jabbadabbado - if you provide a means of evacuation you would also be obliged to provide accommodation, food and in effect become a de facto guardian for these people.

    Otherwise, what do you do? Organise buses and other modes of transportation and then just drop everyone off on the side of the road when you think you are out of the direct danger zone?

    You have to draw the line of responsibility somewhere, because if you take the first step then you may have a duty of care to follow through and take on roles and responsibilities beyond that of a state authority.
  17. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    Even a $20 ticket out of town isn't very helpful if you have nowhere to go and can't afford even the cheapest place to stay.

    Like you, MR44, I admit I don't know any of the answers, but I suspect that if a real effort had been made to round people up and put them on free buses to emergency shelters inland, then the situation would be a lot different than it is now.

    It was a question of planning. We know Louisiana had contingency plans for the city-killing Hurricane. But as it turns out, either the planning was awful or the implementation of it was egregiously deficient.

    Louisiana's plan apparently amounted to this:

    "Hello. We have a killer hurricane on the way. I hereby order everyone in the city to save themselves if they can."

    I don't know if you have a sense of just how poor the poorest people in Louisiana are. Poor. And illiterate. I've been to four conventions in New Orleans. It was the greatest convention city in the U.S. I know every inch of the area around the convention center. I guess it was seeing all those people camped out at the convention center yelling at the cameras for help that really brought home the tragedy for me. These were not looters or opportunists. They were the poorest of the city's poor and it's obvious to me that simply being ordered to evacuate offered them absolutely no hope of escape.
  18. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    Are the National Guards trained police or trained soldiers?

    Setting aside the rest of your post for a second, the simple answer is both.

    The National Guard is unique among the services because they have always had a dual mission through their charter. They can be called up by their respective state governor for civil duties, or they can be federalized to support the active army.

    As such, they are trained in such things as riot control and disaster response, but also in their military mission like infantry, artillery or armor, etc..

    Because of this, there has always been some criticism that the National Guard Bureau is a "jack of all trades, but a master of none." This does make some sense. An active duty infantry unit, for example, will train at nothing but infantry tasks until it is really good at it. The National Guard has to split their training time among federal and state concerns.

    However, this also works in the NG's favor, because I suspect they don't view things so one sidedly. It just comes down to the fact that you have to do the best job you can with what you have.
  19. Loopster Jedi Youngling

    Member Since:
    Sep 26, 2000
    star 4
    I'm not bagging the National Guard, and I don't know how they are trained. If the National Guard is anything like the Army Reserve here, then they have absolutely no training in policing.

    I just don't like hearing "shoot to kill" orders.
  20. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Mar 19, 1999
    star 7
    You have to draw the line of responsibility somewhere, because if you take the first step then you may have a duty of care to follow through and take on roles and responsibilities beyond that of a state authority

    But the state is having to do that now anyway. It would have been far more cost effective to plan for a system of emergency shelters beforehand - and then have a plan to bus thousands of people to those shelters.

    Obviously, timing is a factor. Had there been a true mandatory/assisted evacuation plan in place, could it have been implemented in time.

    The other thing is resources. Would people able to evacuate on their own have been able to get out of the city if the highways were clogged with bus convoys?

    Maybe there was a deliberate choice made to leave the poor people in the city so that people with the means to escape on their own would be able to do so.

    The whole thing reminds me a bit of Titanic. Somehow, the folks in steerage always end up going down with the ship.
  21. Cyprusg Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 16, 2002
    star 4
    Wow, talk about speculation! Are you privy to such information or are you just making stuff up? Imagine how large a conspiracy there would have to be in order to delay rescue operations and aid based on skin color. You're dealing with several different organizations and thousands and thousands of people leading the operations.

    Now if you want to talk about skin color and why New Orleans and other predominantly black areas are the only ones having these problems right now we can do that...
  22. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    The whole thing reminds me a bit of Titanic. Somehow, the folks in steerage always end up going down with the ship.

    Yeah..what's the line when someone announces that half the people are going to die? "Not the better half".
  23. Mr44 VIP

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2002
    star 6
    And to add on for Jabba.

    Again, you raise some excellent points, but ones which extend beyond this specific disaster. Those who face extreme poverty will always get the shaft in relation to the rest of society. These extremely poor are also the ones that don't get decent medical care, nutrition, or education, so not being evacuated out of the city is but a single item in a long list of items.

    I suppose the pragmatic answer would be that the evacuation system saved 1.3 million people out of 1.4 million potential victims. By the numbers, that's a pretty effective system. Is that overly harsh? Again, I don't know.

    Since it is below sea level, what if New Orleans hadn't put as much resources into evacuation, and we were now looking at 500,000 trapped in the city or a million trapped in the metro area, instead of the approximately 100,000 that may be?

    Can any city plan a disaster contingency that will save every single person within its limits? I don't think that's possible.
  24. The-D Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    May 18, 2005
    star 4
    Then there's the difference between you and I because I'd like to think that the leader of my country would spend a bit of time in the area, rather than simply flying over it in a jumbo jet. It's not an attack on Bush, just that I'm surprised that the President didn't spend time in the actual area, on the ground or in a chopper.

    What good would come from grounding the President of the United States in a hostile zone with limited landing areas, with the threat of localized newly-developed gang members wielding looted AK-47 assault rifles, and a proven intent to kill? That's an unneccesary risk IMO.
  25. LostOnHoth Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 15, 2000
    star 5
    I suppose the pragmatic answer would be that the evacuation system saved 1.3 million people out of 1.4 million potential victims. By the numbers, that's a pretty effective system. Is that overly harsh? Again, I don't know.

    If those figures are correct then I would say the evacuation was an astounding success.
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