An Outsider Looking In Has A Better Grasp

This is from David Warren in the Ottawa Citizen. It is amazing that a man looking in has a better grasp than some of the people who are actually here.

September 11, 2005

Blame throwing

There’s plenty wrong with America, since you asked. (Everybody’s asking.) I’m tempted to say, the only difference from Canada, is that they have a few things right. That would be unfair, of course — I am often pleased to discover things we still get right.

But one of them would not be disaster preparation. If something happened up here, on the scale of Katrina, we wouldn’t even have the resources to arrive late. We would be waiting for the Americans to come save us, the same way the government in Louisiana just waved and pointed at Washington, D.C. The theory being, that when you’re in real trouble, that’s where the adults live.

And that isn’t an exaggeration. Almost everything that has worked in the recovery operation along the U.S. Gulf Coast has been military and National Guard. Within a few days, under several commands, finally consolidated under the remarkable Lt. Gen. Russel Honore, it was once again the U.S. military, efficiently cobbling together a recovery operation on a scale beyond the capacity of any other earthly institution.

We hardly have a military up here. We have elected one feckless government after another, who have cut corners until there is nothing substantial left. We don’t have the ability even to transport and equip our few soldiers. Should disaster strike at home, on a big scale, we become a Third World country. At which point, our national smugness is of no avail.

From Democrats and the American Left — the U.S. equivalent to the people who run Canada — we are still hearing that the disaster in New Orleans showed a heartless, white Republican America had abandoned its underclass.

This is garbage. The great majority of those not evacuated lived in assisted housing, receive food stamps and prescription medicine and government support through many other programmes. Many have, all their lives, expected someone to lift them to safety, sans input from themselves. And the demagogic mayor they elected left, quite literally, hundreds of transit and school buses parked in rows to be lost in the flood, that could have driven them out of town.

Yes, that was insensitive. But it is also the truth; and sooner or later we must acknowledge that welfare dependency creates exactly the sort of haplessness and social degeneration we saw on display, as the floodwaters rose. Many suffered terribly, and many died, and one’s heart goes out. But already the survivors are being put up in new accommodations, and their various entitlements have been directed to new locations.

The scale of private charity has also been unprecedented. There are yet no statistics, but I’ll wager the most generous state in the union will prove to have been arch-Republican Texas, and that nationally, contributions in cash and kind are coming disproportionately from people who vote Republican. For the world divides into “the mouths” and “the wallets”.

The Bush-bashing, both down there and up here, has so far lost touch with reality, as to raise questions about the bashers’ state of mind.

Consult any authoritative source on how government works in the United States, and you will learn that the U.S. federal government’s legal, constitutional, and institutional responsibility for first response to Katrina, as to any natural disaster, was zero.

Notwithstanding, President Bush took the prescient step of declaring a disaster, in order to begin deploying FEMA and other federal assets, two full days in advance of the stormfall. In the little time since, he has managed to coordinate an immense recovery operation — the largest in human history — without invoking martial powers. He has been sufficiently Presidential to respond, not even once, to the extraordinarily mendacious and childish blame-throwing.

One thinks of Kipling’s “If –” poem, which I learned to recite as a lad, and mention now in the full knowledge that it drives postmodern leftoids and gliberals to apoplexy — as anything that is good, beautiful, or true:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise…

Unlike his critics, Bush is a man, in the full sense presented by these verses. A fallible man, like all the rest, but a man.

David Warren

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3 Responses to “An Outsider Looking In Has A Better Grasp”

  1. Kelt says:

    The outside of a box is much easier to see when you’re not inside it. :)

    However, this discrepancy about how government works bothers me. If government is not responsible for any natural disaster, then why do such organizations such as FEMA exist in the first place?

    Also, I will remind that the government is made up of the American people. If enough American people decide one day that they want cherries on sundaes given to them for free at the local downtown corner of any major city, then there will be cherries on sundaes. Plenty of them too.

    If enough people want Katrina disaster relief, then there will be Katrina disaster relief funded by taxpayer money the government has.

    The responsibilities of the government is relative to the people of America, authoritative source or nay. David Warren seems to suggest that Bush is a kind soul for allowing the government to support disaster relief.

    I do agree that there is too much Bush bashing, people should bash the advisor’s of Bush more. I dislike the price of gasoline relative to the average job income. I dislike the prices of cost of living relative to minimum wage. Even I do a little Bush bashing from time to time. :)

    What pisses me off is how insurance companies are avoiding payment (with excuses like, flood damage not covered, or we will make up something so we don’t have to pay) while so many others donate to help those people who have lost their homes and their stuff. It’s like someone fixing their own toilet while the plumber sits on the couch and watches TV.

    Reap what you sow, who knows?

  2. Big Dog says:

    Kelt, I agree with some of the things you say. The government though, does not have money, it has our money. FEMA exists to coordinate efforts. States can not get access to resources from across the country without a federal agency to support it. In addition, FEMA provides tons of training to communities so they will be prepared for this type of thing (I would bet NO Louisiana had fewer than 10 in the last class).

    I think that it is OK to go in and help with the efforts but people should realize this is not some God given right and should not demand things. They should be happy for the assistance. There should not be money spent on non hurricane related problems as the politicians in LA are trying to do. Most importantly, there should be no tax increase to pay for this. The government can trim the fat and fund it that way.

    Insurance companies are not the greatest but I can understand their dilemma. They have been paying out for false claims associated with disaster and they have been paying real claims for hurricanes quite regularly and when they raise rates everyone gets their knickers in a wad and they start all theses congressional hearings.

    It is a mess but this guy does point out that it is a state responsibility. Mat at B4B made a great point that the protesters should all be in the Gulf helping.

  3. Surfside says:

    I say the whole concept of building a city below sea level is ludicrous. I believe if you want to build a house close to the ocean or any body of water, you should be paying huge insurance premiums which will allow you to rebuild your house in the event of a natural disaster, including a “flood.” Why should I be paying for someone else’s castle by the sea? Regardless if it’s through the federal government or private insurance, we will all eventually pay at least part of those costs.

    If a city chooses to allow construction in a flood plain, then they must be required to obtain enough insurance to reconstruct in the event of a disaster. BTW, no one in New Orleans was required to carry flood insurance — unlike the rest of the country who lives in a flood plain. How ridiculous is that? Why should we all be paying for others’ folly and poor judgement.

    With this new funding demanded by the state of Louisiana, we’ve now become responsible for not only the poor and indigent that need a hand, but also for wetlands, alligators, idiot city planners and cattle ranches — to name just a few. Can someone please tell me what happened to the concept of personal responsibility in this country?