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<nettime> A Progressive Response to Katrina
Michael H Goldhaber on Tue, 6 Sep 2005 09:50:32 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> A Progressive Response to Katrina


I have prepared the following draft in response to Katrina and Bush's
inactions. If you approve, please forward to your own lists.


It should be evident by now that Katrina is Bush's Monica, except the stained blue
dress this time is spread across an area the size of Great Britain, the denial
extends far deeper, and the now familiar lie is that "no one could have

But this time much, much more is at stake than a presidency. How America reacts to
this infidelity --this utter lack of faith with our fellow citizens-- will
determine our future for years to come. Progressives cannot remain silent. Nor can
we afford the luxury of merely criticizing. We must make plain in the most
concrete terms what we would do now. Further, we must begin to find ways to
accomplish some of that, to use our progressive networks to influence what happens
win the spreading crisis from this point out.

Katrina and its aftermath represent what happens when a national leadership buries
its head in the sand -- when it lives on fantasies -- such as: the inevitable
triumph of the market in all situations; the inevitable triumph of democracy
wherever our troops land; the inevitable superiority of one country; the
impossibility that we will be affected adversely by global warming; that global
warming is a liberal fiction; that it won't matter if the President staffs his
high offices with incompetent cronies; that we don't have to worry about = the
fate of the earth because the Rapture will come; or that lowering taxes and aiding
the rich is the best policy for everything.

Katrina exposes much longer-standing scandals too. The Civil War of the 1860's and
the civil rights movement of the 1960's did not end the mistreatment of Americans
of African descent. They didn't end the third-world level poverty in the very
heart of the South. They did not even end vicious racism. One look at New Orleans
in the aftermath puts the lie to all claims that affirmative action is no longer
necessary. The Gulf area, the main source of the US's oil and natural gas, has
been exploited for its resources like part of the third world., with the same
squalid and inhuman results.

One look puts the lie to the both real and metaphorical claims that a rising tide
lifts all boats. Economic growth that is not distributed is a hoax and a lie.
Bush's policies merely exacerbated what is still the shame of both parties --
Republican and Democratic alike.

Katrina has lain all that bare.

It is a terrible irony that the oil and gas extracted from the Gulf not only
hasn't helped most of the Gulf states' citizens as it ahs been taken out, but its
burning has helped heat the Gulf to spawn the intensified hurricanes that ensure
disaster, and at the same time, increase the dangers from tropical diseases as the
area warms.

Global warming from fossil fuel combustion is no myth, and it must be fought, and
fought at an accelerated rate, if we are not to have still worse disasters
resulting from the uneven heating of the planet. We must reduce fossil fuels and
also, most likely, find ways to reduce average temperatures by making the planet
less absorbent of the sun's rays. We must find alternatives to automotive and
truck travel, to oil, coal and natural gas, and we must do that quickly. We
already have years of catching up to do.

We cannot be safe in a world where most people are getting poorer, whether in the
US or out of it. While we must work hardest to bring about equality at home, we
cannot neglect the growing poverty in countries to our south, poverty further
exacerbated by global warming and global trade alike. The answer to that cannot be
military-related jobs, which would plunge the world into further unnecessary

Finally, one reason for our current problems is the utter failure of the US system
of education, which has failed to reach, interest or challenge most of our
citizens. We have to find ways to make education available to all, captivating,
and rigorous enough so that our citizens are capable of understanding the kinds of
challenges we face, capable of global thinking and understanding, not afraid to
tackle hard problems, not afraid to seem smart, less susceptible to lies and spin.

Our nation is now at a crucial turning point. It is a moment of heightened
consciousness. The inadequacies of our current course may never be plainer. If
progressives fail now to point us most clearly in a new and better direction, what
can we expect? Drift, despondency, and myopia may remove all hope of an equal
future. Rising cynicism, selfishness and drawing inward, may take over. Or
fundamentalist fascism that rationalizes the carelessness already prevailing may
win out.

The progressive movement today is still weak, fragmented and overburdened. Still
we have little choice but to rise to the challenge. We must find ways to band
together, to propose enlightened principles and methods for this new
reconstruction, to hold officials and corporations to a tighter accountability. We
must seek out and propose capable new leaders for the parts of the endeavor we can
already foresee. We must find ways to continue to be heard and to monitor

What must our immediate demands be? We can only arrive at that by swift networking
to develop consensus, but the following seems a minimum we should aspire to

* The poor must be rapidly and humanely compensated for their losses, receive
adequate medical attention, and be reunited with their families and friends;

* The levees must be restored much stronger, adequate for a much more intense

* All citizens of New Orleans and neighboring areas must be restored to their
homes, with those of the poor adequately cleaned up, made safe and sanitary
according to the occupants needs;

* The damage must not be used as an excuse for re-development schemes that deprive
previous residents of their homes;

* The Mississippi must be ecologically restored in a more sustainable manner;

* Emergency measures to equitably reduce oil and gas use must begin at once;

* The US must at once sign onto and ratify the Kyoto accords, and immediately seek
to go beyond them to start crash international programs of research into not only
lowering carbon emissions but reversing current greenhouse effects;

* Tax cuts for the rich must be rescinded at once to help pay for this and other

* FEMA and other federal agencies must be strengthened and made effective in
fulfilling their intended missions, which must include detailed protection and
evacuation plans that take into account the needs and limitations of all citizens;

* Cronyism in government offices must be firmly opposed;

* We must stop wasting our nation's and the world's resources on military
adventures that cannot succeed;

* Specifically, we should bring the troops home from Iraq at once.

Michael H. Goldhaber
Monday, September 5, 2005

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