Thursday, October 20

Katrina Fatigue

Weeks have passed since the twin disasters that was Hurricane's Katrina and F.E.M.A., and it's clear that the attention span of the nation has wavered. With the Earthquake's in Kashmir, and the approaching Hurricane Wilma - the temporary window of oppurtunity where the true impact of poverty was clear and obvious to all, has returned to it's nominal position -- far on the back burner.

Box of privately donated Supplies ready to be sent to Katrina Victims in August
We've entered Katrina Fatigue, the charity drives are over, all the Rock Stars and Movie stars have all gone back to Hollywood and New York - back to the Red Carpet, people's attention has wavered - the levee's are still broken, the city is still mostly flooded, the GOP has shifted blame to Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco.

We had a moment where the national's attention was focused - like a laser - on the issue of poverty. People cared - for a while - people contributed - for a time, but that time has passed. President Bush made a speach from New Orleans that practically made him sound like a simpering Liberal, with a long list of federal subsidies and spending on the poor...

Tonight I propose the creation of a Gulf Opportunity Zone, encompassing the region of the disaster in Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama. Within this zone, we should provide immediate incentives for job-creating investment, tax relief for small businesses, incentives to companies that create jobs, and loans and loan guarantees for small businesses, including minority-owned enterprises, to get them up and running again. It is entrepreneurship that creates jobs and opportunity; it is entrepreneurship that helps break the cycle of poverty; and we will take the side of entrepreneurs as they lead the economic revival of the Gulf region.

I propose the creation of Worker Recovery Accounts to help those evacuees who need extra help finding work. Under this plan, the federal government would provide accounts of up to $5,000, which these evacuees could draw upon for job training and education to help them get a good job, and for child care expenses during their job search.

And to help lower-income citizens in the hurricane region build new and better lives, I also propose that Congress pass an Urban Homesteading Act. Under this approach, we will identify property in the region owned by the federal government, and provide building sites to low-income citizens free of charge, through a lottery. In return, they would pledge to build on the lot, with either a mortgage or help from a charitable organization like Habitat for Humanity. Home ownership is one of the great strengths of any community, and it must be a central part of our vision for the revival of this region.

Then he turns around and destroys the minimum wage in the disaster area, which or course is exactly what poor people really need.

Riding the Bus home from work in LA I heard an exchange between the driver and one of the passangers concerning Katrina Survivors and Refugees who had been bused to the Skid Row area of Downtown LA.

"I'm not giving another dime to F.E.M.A, those people downtown are taking their $2000, going out and spending it on crack -- getting high!"

Never mind the fact that Skid Row is filled with predators and dealers who are more than happy to relieve these desperate people, who've lost everything they own and many of their own family in the storm and aftermath, of every dime they can. Never mind the fact that people who've been through a trauma this large are far more than likely to self-medicate - and that what they really need is treatment and counciling. As she was saying this the bus driver was in the middle of haggling over a set of bootleg Louis Vuitton purses and sunglasses from a sleazy hustler who was only half-a-rung up the food chain from a drug dealer.

Because that's how you have to survive sometimes in the inner city. Got no job? Become an Dntrepeneur and meet the needs of the market. If people want cheap knock-offs of some ugly name brand knick-knacks - go to Downtown LA and sell them at a 60% markup to any dupe you can find. If a bunch of hungry desperate and demorilized people get bused into town with $2000 a peice burning a hole in their pocket - sell 'em drugs.

It's the American Way - don't cha know?

We began a War on Poverty over thirty years ago, and we've had many different flare-ups and skirmishes during that entire time -- this isn't the time to give up, not when the costs of failure are so obvious and glaring to all.


No comments: