my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?

8.30.2005

Oh, New Orleans

Sitting here watching the heartbreaking events in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, you can't help but think Why them? Most of the ones hurt so badly are already so poor. How can you possibly prepare for anything like that? And what if it happens here?

When the levees were breached, that had to be the worst. And now the coverage addresses that this had been warned against. As with so many parts of this country's disintegrating infrastructure, funds were probably diverted to frivolities like public education or health, which are already seriously underfunded.

Because people don't want to pay taxes "for big government." Who they nevertheless must look to when something this devastating happens.

In Seattle, the big fear is earthquake. On my desktop right now is my list for an "earthquake preparedness kit" which I periodically look at and forget.

And what happens if the Alaskan Way viaduct -- a cracking near-death structure that is both highway and bridge, one of two arterials that are the main ways into and out of the city -- what happens if that crumbles into the Sound? We've been warned against that, too. But don't want to pay the taxes to repair it.

Americans have a true love/hate relationship with their government. Don't want to pay taxes ... for schools, or roads, or headstart early education or ... fill in the blank.

But what happens when disaster strikes?

18 Comments:

Anonymous Lulu said...

I don't get not wanting to pay taxes. I only recently understood the conflict about 'big government' in the USA (thank you Aaron Sorkin and The West Wing) - we don't really have the issue in the tiny UK. It seems to me that very few people will ever actively choose to spend money on long-term projects that might be of benefit years ahead, when weighed against gratification, now. Therefore you pay taxes to someone who will take the bigger and longer view, and who will go against the natural tribal selfishness of the human being. You hand them some power and some money and say, please take the bigger view. It's the same principal as living in an apartment block - you pay a service charge and the managing agents do repairs that don't affect you personally that normally everyone would argue over, like when the person on the top floor has the communal roof leak on them.

Of course, the effectiveness of that relies on those in power actually not taking a short-term view themselves, and actually being the grown-ups we want them to be. That's why we were all so outraged in London at the spending of millions on a Millennium Dome in order to have a party on New Year 2000. No one wanted it - but no one. Our health service is in tatters, transport sucks. Last thing we needed was some white elephant to be a flashy prestige project. Waste waste waste.

Am horrified by the scenes of rubble and floodwater. Is there any kind of international disaster fund? Will they get help and compensation?

whwbbrt: something out of Lord of the Rings?

2:40 PM

 
Blogger mireille said...

Yes, yes -- the ability to trust and rely upon the maturity/far sightedness of those we elect: utopia. And there is something called FEMA, Federal Emergency Management Agency, I think, which will come in because the site has been declared a Disaster Area and attempt to assist people who've been badly hurt by this. Our conservative Republican government is currently running deep deficits, however, due to an expensive (not just monetarily) war that said government speaks to continuing indefinitely. How many ways can a dollar be spent? How many dollars can be borrowed against for how long? This is a scary time for so many reasons. xoxo

fqupgbs: just sound it out and you will have described federal policymakers.

2:49 PM

 
Blogger Tom & Icy said...

When you think about it, life is so fragile and so many things can go wrong like terrorists, nature, germs, accidents or just our body malfunctions. But we just have to live day by day and be generally prepared. Our governments are being stretched to the limits. Churches and social clubs need contingency plans where we can help one another when these disasters strike like safe havens and food storage warehouses for emergencies.

3:57 PM

 
Blogger mireille said...

More ways to be connected; you're right. xoxo

4:02 PM

 
Blogger briefcandle said...

What happens when disaster strikes?

We just lock the barn door after the horse has left.

4:41 PM

 
Blogger AP3 said...

It is funny how people are about taxes. I really feel for these people. You're right, many of them are quite poor. It's very sad.

4:42 PM

 
Blogger actonbell said...

The poorest are always hardest hit, and the rich hide under tax shelters *sigh* Paying taxes is the most patriotic and moral thing a person can do. I don't understand dodging them, either.

5:05 PM

 
Blogger AP3 said...

Well put, actonbell!

As for a Saint Francesca, this is from Wikipedia: "Saint Francesca Xavier Cabrini (July 15, 1850 - December 22, 1917), known during her life as Mother Cabrini, was the first American citizen to be canonized.

She was born Maria Francesca Cabrini in Sant'Angelo Lodigiano, in Lombardy in Italy....

.... Although her lifelong dream was to be a missionary in China, Pope Leo XIII sent her to New York on March 31, 1889. There, she obtained the permission of Archbishop Michael Corrigan to found an orphanage, the first of 67 institutions she founded in New York, Chicago, Seattle, and New Orleans, and in countries throughout South America and Europe.

.... St. Francesca Xavier Cabrini is the patron saint of immigrants...."

5:51 PM

 
Blogger mireille said...

thank you ap3. Years ago, I was a public relations assistant at what was then St. Cabrini Hospital in Seattle. xoxo

6:14 PM

 
Anonymous Lulu said...

It's true, it's the charities and non-governmental social groups that one really relies on in times of disaster. On a small scale, when one of the areas of London was evacuated for forensics after the failed bombs on July 21st, all the people one street down, who had just escaped evacuation, came outside and invited the evacuees to stay the night, and connected stereo systems and TVs on balconies (it was a warm night) and brought out food and drink and had a street party. This being London, they had never spoken to most of their neighbours before.

Oh, by the way, I can spell principle and do know the difference *hangs head in shame*. It just slipped through the net, as my editor boss used to say.

sczds: all the politicians who spend our money in ways we don't condone.

6:19 PM

 
Blogger red-queen said...

Not to ignore your excellent points about taxes, and not to sound callous toward those suffering the aftermath of Katrina, but...
...aren't we humans astoundingly, unforgivably arrogant to build a city by the sea, 10 feet below sea level, and continue to buttress it with 18-foot levees against the "encroachment" of one of the world' largest rivers...and then lament when nature runs its course. In the long run, it's an untenable position. What exactly was the gub'mint supposed to do about it?

7:06 PM

 
Blogger Tan Lucy Pez said...

Good point red-queen.

Americans don't want to pay taxes. I have never minded paying them, but I want a real say in how they are spent. Too much is spent on silly things like the Steamtown National Historic Site near Scranton, PA. As a Pennsylvania citizen I know that a LOT of federal tax dollars were spent on that, and it's in a place that no one visits. But your tax dollars created it, and support it because we have a clever Congressman from that area.

So, while I'm in favor of taxes, let's remember that you have to stay on top of how they are spent.

7:20 PM

 
Blogger mireille said...

And the best example of trying to wrest back some control of how federal dollars are spent would be to take a hard look at why we are in Iraq, how we got to Iraq, how much longer we are expected to be in Iraq, and how much George Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld et al are paid, and for how much longer.

7:25 PM

 
Blogger Kyahgirl said...

It would be so nice to see some of the money that is going towards blowing Iraq to smithereens could be re-routed to something useful in your own country.
I was so sad watching the news. I have many, many colleagues who work and live around Baton Rouge. I can't help but think of them and all their relatives and friends who live around New Orleans. Very hard.

7:10 AM

 
Anonymous ~clearing said...

We have the fault line below us too and the lava thing going on north of us in Yellowstone. And then there's the insane below zero weather in the winter and the 45 days of summer...which are over, had frost last night. And I still love it here.

Crying for our brothers and sisters in the south. What a miserable thing. Any one of them would love to wake up in their own bed with frost on the roof.

Live every day to the full, M. Sending big juicy kisses to your sweet brow.

XXXX

8:29 AM

 
Blogger still life said...

All of it is so true and to think that we go on with disaster plans sitting on the desk. When the World Trade Center attack occured and New York came to a standstill, I had a list on my fridge. My friend Amy and I would spend hours on the phone discussing routes of escape, who should pack what. So small in the overall scope.
My friend Terence has family in New Orleans who lost everything, he is going home on Friday to support.

9:34 AM

 
Blogger mireille said...

I'm so sorry for Terence's losses, Still Life. Please, if you can, convey that to him? xoxo

9:59 AM

 
Blogger still life said...

oh how kind of you...i will show him this post when he comes over this evening.

11:35 AM

 

Post a Comment

<< Home