September 8, 2005

worse than we thought...

I wasn't planning to bash Louisiana government any more, but I just ran across several columnists (including Friedmann and Myerson) arguing that obviously people are now going to wake up and discard this conservative lunacy and raise taxes and return us to the glory days when Democrat big government made the trains run on time...Nuh uh.

This is the sort of stuff people are going to wake up to:

...In addition to the plans, local, state and federal officials held a simulated hurricane drill 13 months ago, in which widespread flooding supposedly trapped 300,000 people inside New Orleans. The exercise simulated the evacuation of more than a million residents. The problems identified in the simulation apparently were not solved.

A year ago, as Hurricane Ivan approached, New Orleans ordered an evacuation but did not use city or school buses to help people evacuate. As a result many of the poorest citizens were unable to evacuate. Fortunately, the hurricane changed course and did not hit New Orleans, but both Gov. Blanco and Mayor Nagin acknowledged the need for a better evacuation plan. Again, they did not take corrective actions. In 1998, during a threat by Hurricane George, 14,000 people were sent to the Superdome and theft and vandalism were rampant due to inadequate security. Again, these problems were not corrected...[Bob Williams, WSJ. ]

I think Dems are really going to regret starting their ugly blame-game. If they had know what was going to crawl out they wouldn't have turned over that rock...

And I think we are framing the discussion very badly. The underlying fact is that southern Louisiana is a quagmire (metaphorically, though also physically of course). The word quagmire has been debased by un-serious people to mean "anything difficult attempted by the US." But go back to the original metaphor, of a path taken that gets one in deeper and deeper, until you can go neither forward nor backward. Louisiana took a path centuries ago, when she started building levees. And every step, every house built or field cleared or business started made it harder to even think of starting over again.

Once Louisiana started to fight against the water, it was, in the long-term view, like a child trying protect a sand castle against the incoming tide. There's not only the sinking land, and the eroding coast, but also the Mississippi River itself is trying to cut a new route to the sea. Slow-moving rivers always change their paths. The, you guessed it, Corps of Engineers has been trying to keep the river from making a new path through the Atchafalaya basin since the 1950's.

If you are in a quagmire, you can't think clearly. You have invested too much to consider starting over. Slavery was a quagmire for this country, because a whole region had invested its wealth, and its lives, in the system. There was really no escape that didn't entail a large part of the country "declaring bankruptcy," and starting over with nothing. It was inconceivable for them.

In the case of Louisiana, it may be possible to find a middle course, and manage nature more wisely. There are plans, possibilities. And one hopes the disaster will shake things up enough to make thinking about a new way possible.

That's one reason why I found the instant torrent of lefty criticism infuriating. There is no thought behind it; it assumes that the quagmire is normal, and anyone who doesn't support it is heartless, racist, incompetent, blah blah blah. And now the Administration will probably be forced by political pressure to stay in the quagmire. There's a good case to be made for a lot of federal spending to start the region onto a better road. If the critics really cared about Louisiana and its people they would be pressing for something like that. But they don't care, they are obviously thrilled that people are dying in NOLA, so they can vent their hated of Bush. Actually contributing to a real debate is totally beyond them.

Posted by John Weidner at September 8, 2005 8:45 AM
Weblog by John Weidner