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19.8.08

Attitudes, not federal spending, hold back N.O. recovery

As we approach the third anniversary of Hurricane Katrina striking New Orleans, it’s increasingly clear that it is not insufficient government assistance that slows recovery, it’s attitudes of too much dependence on government.

The federal government already has committed $126 billion – or in per capita terms using New Orleans’ population prior to the disaster, $278,146 per resident – to build back up the area. And no doubt hundreds of billions more will be spent to do things like rebuild and strengthen levees. It will be by far the most money the federal government ever has spent in a single metropolitan area, in history. To ask anything more of it not only is beyond reason, but smacks of greed and contempt for hard-working Americans who have paid to date about $415 per capita extra on behalf of New Orleans.

Yet some keep complaining enough hasn’t been done, in large part mostly by people who pay little if anything in taxes to the federal government to finance the operation. No doubt these whiners were socialized into the New Orleans that fostered a culture of dependency, where government programs not only were widely utilized, but demanded as some kind of right to finance lifestyles devoid of effort to contribute to society at least marginally.

Not all severely inconvenienced by the disaster responded this way. While some emitted cries of woe and waited for others to do things for them, others like the Vietnamese community in New Orleans East took matters into their own hands and didn’t wait on government to put things back together. Many families at an individual level have done the same.

The reason why New Orleans still shows considerable lack of recovery is not because of a lack of resources provided by the federal government, it is because of New Orleans and too many of its citizens’ actions and behaviors – from putting in to office a whimsical mayor to carping rather than doing. One wondered whether the great displacement that occurred would wash away the dependency syndrome entrenched in the minds of too many Orleanians and politicians. That has proven not to be the case.

5 comments:

doctorj2u said...

Have you been anywhere near New Orleans? I am more worried about the soul of this country than about anybody on the Gulf Coast. It sickens me that Americans can abandon their own citizens, or at least do their best to do so by trying to demonize the people that suffered the most. New Orleans survived. Sorry that your side lost. New Orleans lives despite your best efforts to abandon it.

T. Wong said...

j2u, if you read some evolutionary psychology, you'll see that blaming the victim is a primitive, yet common fallacious response when misfortune strikes someone else. Basically a defense mechanism.

Anonymous said...

Wong,
I think the defense mechanism you're going for here is called identification, like how if I felt like a victim I could identify with other victims, and in identifying with them I can remain stuck in my own childlike powerlessness rather than taking responsibility. I can say that because they are victims, they have the moral high ground, and say that being the victim gives them that moral high ground. But this creates a moral inversion in which failure is lauded, so the only real moral failures in such a society become the ones who fail to fail, those who succeed. What does your evolutionary psychology tell you about societies that value failure above success?

T. Wong said...

Nope, that's Freudian psychobabble-- superego can't moderate between id and ego, yadda yadda. I'm talking about blaming the victim to place yourself higher than the victim on the food chain, both in the perceived hierarchy and in your own mind. Because you can't bear to believe that such misfortune would ever come your way.

Republicans are gifted at blaming the victim. That's why all these guys wearing Sansabelts & Old Spice and who have their pagers and cell phones strapped to them want to be Republicans. They want to be identified with the "winners" and not be a part of the "losers," even though the "winners" are screwing these newer members of the middle class to the wall.

You need to re-read your psychobabble 101 book and learn the difference between identification and empathy. Then, you ought to consider spending some time in New Orleans. Only the most callous among us would use terms like "childlike powerlessness" to describe the recovery efforts. We'd reserve that term for C. Ray.

After the storm, it was estimated that BR would be the largest city in LA until 2020 or so. NO has already overtaken BR. The rumors of NO's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Anonymous said...

Wong,
I assume you realize that bashing Republicans makes Republicans the victims of your bashing, ergo, you are blaming the victim for making you bash them.

I lived in New Orleans for many years, but I haven't been there in the last eight because it's a sewer of degenerates. There are a few noble working people who pay taxes that go to tons of social programs that allow just about everyone in the ninth ward to live there without working, generations upon generations. I've seen it first hand.

And you need to check up on the difference between sympathy and empathy because when you let someone continue to fail their own potentials, that isn't empathy. Empathy recognizes where people are, and where they can be out of their own works. Sympathy assumes that some people are so bad off that nothing should be expected of them, whether it's two hundred thousand spent on each New Orleans resident, or two hundred billion spent on social handouts, it is never enough to require someone to stand back up on their own, because they are the identified loser.