Hurricane Katrina - third world neo-liberalism comes to America

New Orleans is one of the busiest ports in America, handling about a quarter of important traffic into the country, as well as being an energy hub handling about one quarter of America's total petroleum production. This point is worth making since there is some talk about 'bulldozing New Orleans', since it is located in a foolish location, being under sea level. The strategic importance of this coastal city has become apparent to everyone, and therefore common sense dictates that instead of rationalizing and talking about 'bull dozers' people should be thinking about protecting this strategic city, which would require government spending for the common good, which as we now know, being government interference is supposed to be a very bad thing, and a violation of the one true gospel, which dictates that only private enterprise should be functioning in a society, which works like magic, and the government should only be running the military. The reason the government will be stuck with the military is that this way the private American can pay the trillions of dollars it costs to provide armed services to corporations, which means that corporations make a profit off the spending rather than having to pay for that exhorbitant price tag themselves.

According to figures assembled on the webpage (motor gasoline product supplied ), Americans consume about 9,480,000 barrels of gasoline per day, which works out to about 400 million gallons per day, which at three dollars per gallon, works out to one billion two hundred million dollars per day spent on gasoline.

Gas prices have risen an average of 40 cents a gallon in the wake of Katrina, which works out to a collective price rise of 160 million dollars per day.

This means that Americans are spending about a billion more on gasoline per week,, while the cost of preparing the levees in New Orleans for a catagory 5 storm was between one and two billion dollars, which would mean that preparing the levees in New Orleans for a catagory 5 hurricane, would have been paid for somewhere between one or two weeks of higher gasoline prices. These calculations are only based upon condumption of gasoline, and do not include any increases in the cost of natural gas that might result, nor do these prices include rises in the prices of goods in stores, and other secondary price increases which will hit Americans in the days ahead, but when these higher costs are included we can see that the cost of repairing the levees could have been covered in less than two weeks, perhaps even a week..

The cost of restoring the wetlands around New Orleans (which can reduce a storm sturge by about a foot for each kilometer of wetlands) was estimated at about 14 billion dollars. What happened instead was that more wetlands were handed over to private developers. The cost of the wetland restoration, which was rejected as 'prohibitively expensive', will now be the equivalent of one month of higher gasoline prices, or less, if we include all the higher prices for groceries and various other goods which will now be paid out of the pocket books of Americans, and not their investors and corporations, since these entities always pass along these costs to average Americans, which means that average Americans will now be paying for all those so called savings achieved previously.

It is also worth noting that the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans already total trillions of dollars, while the spending in the oil war in Iraq already totals 250 billion dolars. For the cost of several days fighting in Iraq, the levees could have been raised to catagory five status, and for the cost of about two weeks of warring in Iraq both the Levees and the wetlands could have been restored, thus saving the country the estimated 100 billion dollar price tag for this disaster, in direct costs and losses to the Gulf Coast, as well as all the billions in associated costs to the economy and to the wallets of average Americans from coast to coast. The wealthiest one per cent of Americans own 40 per cent of the nations wealth, however if we exclude housing and real estate, the wealthiest 1 per cent own 90 per cent of America's assets already (business, stocks, bonds, and other non-real estate related assets). A tax cut they don't need, but a tax cut they get, because they have purchased all the politicians, and in particular Bush in in their hip pocket, although, the truth be told, Bush is one of them, and hardly needed to be bought or pocketed, since when he looks out for their interests he is looking out for himself at the same time.

Hurricane Katrina can therefore be understood as a judgment upon the dogmatic 'free enterprise' and privatization agenda that currently reigns as the gospel of Washington and New York. According to the tenets of this particular faith (the religion, you might say, of Washingtron and the top one per cent), left to its own devices the 'free market' will always work to make everything turn out just right, while any concern by governments for the common good just screws things up royally. We can clearly see how this ideology of Social Darwinism ('greed is good' and 'everyone for themselves') is bankrupt, not only by looking at the monstrous costs of this ridiculous manner of thinking as it concerns Katrina, but also the Black genocide currently going in Africa, where millions are quietly dying of famine, unseen and unheard, for the simple reason that they have no money to go to the food market (while the locust plague wiped out their crops last year, the disaster is mostly caused by human systems, in particular by the 'free market' and 'neo-liberalism', which dictates that those without money are the 'weak' and therefore the herd should be culled by allowing them to starve to death). At the same time it would have not been cost effective to provide transportation out of New Orleans for the poorest citizens, but rather since they had no money to clear out, Social Darwinism dictates that they be left to drown and starve. Neo-liberalism also dictates that America now become a gutted country, with all its jobs shipped off the third world, because that is more cost effective as well, but like most of these cost effective 'neo-liberal' prescriptions, it is only cost effective over the short term, and then costs a huge fortune later, as we can see as America's trade deficit sits at close to 640 billion dollars a year, and continues its ruinous climb towards the trillion dollar mark, a situation that cannot last forever and then results in huge crash, and highly likely, an attempt at installing a monstrous police state or military dictatorship (using the flimsy pretext of a terrorist attack no doubt). At that time the ideology of 'the free market', that wonderful wonderful thing, would dictate that Americans tough it out and hope that there is soup at the soup kitchen, because they don't have a dime.
It is worth noting here, while we consider the workings of that wonderful, wonderful 'free market' and its philosophy of 'Social Darwinism', which makes sure that the fittest outcome occurs by destroying the weak, that the collapse of America into ruins is predictable, just as Katrina and the destruction of New Orleans was predictable, and known to be it on its way, but that idiotic mindset that informs 'neo-liberalism', which is nothing more than filthy greed and self concern disguised as some kind of 'philosophy of life', is going to proceed ahead recklessly destroying America, just as it recklessly destroyed New Orleans. Given that your politicians can see trouble coming, and know that they will be hung from lamp posts for their idiocy, we see them plotting a police state and destroying the Constitution and the Bill of Rights step by step in the process, while at the same time stacking the highest courts with right wing ideologues, as they manouver to save their own asses.

We can therefore sum up the ideology of 'the free market' and capitalism in general, by thinking like a Wall street CEO, by using the following phrase :
Genocide : it is always the most cost effective solution.

Hurricance Katrina and the Big Lie Technique

Tell a big enough lie, and the theory goes, people will believe it. As a humanitarian disaster unfolds in the United States, the government prepares its cover story. The same 'Free market' policies which have led to famine and death in Afrcia after last years plauge of locusts, now displays its modus operandi in America, where once again it is found that the poor are on the receiving end of the inhumane ideology of money, money, money...Since last year there were constant warnings that these were poor subsistence farmers who lived from crop to crop in Africa, but nevertheless, nothing was done about the famine, for fear of violating 'free marketing principles', and even once the famine was underway, there was fear of giving out free food for fear of disrupting Africa's food markets. The IMF also forced the government of Niger to dispense with its emergency food reserves to avoid somehow harming the Niger 'food market'. The truth about this famine is that the only people who are now starving are those without money, as food is available in Niger, at the food markets, but some people have no money. The big lie always told about famines states that these are 'uncontrollable natural disasters', a falsehood that serves to disguise the genocidal mentality of 'free market ideology', a Social Darwinist philosophy that holds only the fittest (those with a dollar) survive, while the weakest, having shown themselves unfit by being destitute, are culled from the herd, leaving behind a stronger marketing system, absent the draining effect of caring for the poor. (The ideology of genocide therefore can be encapsulated in the following free marketing formula 0 Genocide - it's the most cost effective solution).

The same Big Lie technique is being trotted out to explain to the public the humanitarian disaster taking place on the Gulf Coast. Michael Brown, The Bush Administration's appointee as the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said, on Thursday, referring to the predicted thousands of deaths resulting from Katrina,

"Unfortunately, that's going to be attributable a lot to people who did not heed the advance warnings.
I don't make judgments about why people chose not to leave but, you know, there was a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans.
And to find people still there is just heart-wrenching to me because, you know, the mayor did everything he could to get them out of there.
So, we've got to figure out some way to convince people that whenever warnings go out it's for their own good. Now, I don't want to second guess why they did that. My job now is to get relief to them...
Now is not the time to be blaming. Now is the time to recognize that whether they chose to evacuate or chose not to evacuate, we have to help them."

This theme has been picked up in the media, with those in dire straits and those who died being referred to as those who refused to evacuate the city, with the governor insisting that the state government 'begged all those people to get out', and insisting that the means for escape were provided., and the chief of homeland security insisting that residents who remained behind made the choice to do so and that "Some of them, it was their last night on Earth. That’s a hard way to learn a lesson."

A brazen attempt is being made to rewrite history here. One of the themes heard in the days before Katrina struck, was that over one hundred thousand poor people would be unable to evacuate if forced to rely upon 'the free market', which is the way things worked out. Evacuation, under the 'free marketing' system costs money, and if you don't have money, you stay put, and ride out the disaster. The recent message ('blame the victim') contradicts the message sent to the poor of New Orleans just a few weeks before hurricane Katrina came roaring through. A July 24 article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune just a month before Katrina hit, stated that, ,"City, state and federal emergency officials are preparing to give the poorest of New Orleans’ poor a historically blunt message: in the event of a major hurricane, you’re on your own. In scripted appearances being recorded now, officials such as Mayor Ray Nagin, local Red Cross Executive Director Kay Wilkins and City Council President Oliver Thomas drive home the word that the city does not have the resources to move out of harm’s way an estimated 134,000 people without transportation...Officials are recording the evacuation message even as recent research by the University of New Orleans indicated that as many as 60 percent of the residents of most southeast Louisiana parishes would remain in their homes in the event of a Category 3 hurricane."

An article in the December 1st, 2001 Houston Chronicle stated that, "“In the face of an approaching storm, scientists say, the city’s less-than-adequate evacuation routes would strand 250,000 people or more, and probably kill one of 10 left behind as the city drowned under 20 feet of water." At the time FEMA, which had not yet been gutted and subject to 'privatization', had rated the destruction of New Orleans as one of the three most likely disasters forecast to hit the United States.
A prophetic article was published in 2002 in the Times-Picayune"Once it’s certain a major storm is about to hit...100,000 people without transportation will be especially threatened...A large population of low-income residents do not own cars and would have to depend on an untested emergency public transportation system." As it turned out, given the ideologically driven Bush adminstration and its rigid devotion to 'the free market', no such system existed in any form.
The same ideologically rigid 'free marketing' ideology can be detected in the comments made by Bush, who called upon private charity to assist the people of New Orleans, and stated that it would be many years before the city recovered from the disaster, which is another way of saying that there will be no intereference in the operation of the 'free market' by the Bush administration, at least not when it comes to famines and floods, although when the free market requires a few hundred billion in order to capture foreign oil wells, suddenly spending hundreds of billions of dollars of government funds proves to be no problem. As for the response to Katrina, or famines, or any other human disaster, we can see here the inevitable result of the Bush/Reagan policy of jacking up the debt and slashing back taxes, in order to destroy the programs of the federal government, leaving behind only 'the free market', by 'starving the beast.' Anyone who promotes 'private charity' as a solution to the world's woes, has obviously not being paying attention to the world's woes, for 'charity' is a shop worn and tired out fraud, perpetuated only by those who do not wish to be forced to donate (through taxes, for example) and would rather be allowed to 'volunteer' to donate, so that they can then refuse to donate, and just keep every last nickel.
All of this a reprise of what happened after Hurricane Ivan last year, which just missed New Orleans. The following article, from late 2004, sounds like it could have been written about Katrina, since what has happened to New Orleans was known long ago, and was inevitable. The article was given the title Poor, black and left behind.