I have been talking about this for several days now with friends and co-workers and have a great many things to say.
First let me begin by stating that FEMA has a list of the top ten worst things that could happen in this country. Amongst the top 5 are a level 10 earthquake hitting Southern California. Another is a major hurricane hitting New Orleans. While FEMA recognizes that this is a serious issue and has contigency plans on the books, as with any disaster/emergency, there are hordes of variables and elements that no equation, however well constructed and calculated, can take into account.
As far as the response effort goes, let me say that it is important to consider that Bush was on vacation (granted, he takes alot of those) and that Congress was out on its annual recess that they always take this time of year. So, before anything could be done on the Federal level, everyone had to come back from all over the world and reach quarom, but once they did, BOOM, $10B.
I'm not raising defense for the relief organizations' poor response. I'm not placing blame either. I think that now is not the time to point the finger and say it's your fault, you should've done this or that faster or better. I think that now is the time to continue to be forward-looking. To continue to try our damndest to fix the bigger problem. A few months down the line when things have stabalized a bit, then we should look back, with perfect 20/20 hindsight and say "where did we go wrong, what could we have done differently."
As far as the looting, the people are operating on the most primitive parts of the human psyche. The needs, wants, desires, and functions of the ID have pushed their way to the front of their mind and consumed their consciousness. I think anyone who says that it is wrong for these people to go into destroyed Wal-Marts, gas stations, grocery stores etc. to take food, water or clothing doesn't understand this basic principle. I think that when talking ethics, and people's lives are at stake, then we have to put that fact into the context of the ethical/moral questions we are facing. If the people down there want to to steal a television, let them. They can't plug it in, and it will never leave the city. All these items have been written off as a loss by every company, corporation, or small business. They're lost. Everyone knows they're lost. Everyone has accepted the loss.
The people are majorly poor black people who lived in the inner-city of N.O. Their lives have been governed by a cognitive process of why us? Why are we poor while white men run our governments. Alot of them have lived their lives making victims of themselves, and I'm not saying this mentality is right, but this mentality is not in question right now. It is important to understand this mentality when we see them on the news demanding help. They believe that White America is leaving them there to die because they are Black and poor. They believe that White America is continuing to do what they have always done. Regardless of the validity of these thought processes, I believe it explains a great deal.
The fact that these people shoot at their would be rescuers and benefactors, I believe, is a disgrace to Humanity. Shows a lack of respect. Understandably, it shows a great deal of fear. However, it's martial law down there. That means there are no civil rights. While that sways many people to believe they have a right to shoot and kill and rape and rob, it doesn't. What it does mean, is that military personnel have a right to put a round in anyone's head they feel like. And while I don't support violence, and am not big on militarty supremacy, if I was in a helicopter homing in on a rescue landing, and taking fire, or if I saw a gun in a civilians hand AT ALL for that matter, I would pick up a megaphone "Citizen! Drop your Weapon! 3..2...1..." BANG! In the Head. You are dead. Call me cold-hearted, cruel, ignorant or immoral I care not. Some people want to be rescued and wait and watch desperately as their rescuers come in, and ANY one stnding in between the rescuers and the stranded should be removed from their place betwixt the victims and the heros.
I would like to end with a bit of hope. Lt. Gen. Russel Honore is in charge now. The leadership problem at "Ground Zero" has been solved, in my opinion. He's pointing, and yellin, and cussin, and gettin' shit done. I like him. People listen to him. He's not afraid to be responsible for 20,000 lives, or if he is, he sure as hell don't show it. He's a tough sum' bitch willing to get the job done.