Wednesday, May 10, 2006

$hadenfreude in the marketplace of disaster

The announcement that the Bush Administration seeks to terminate the National Civilian Community Corps, a disaster response program in the Americorps volunteer program, is further evidence that the central government views the suffering of some Americans they way they view everything else: an opportunity for unbridled profit.

It's not different from the way Bush et al have handled with war in Iraq, turning the cost-center of 9-11 into the profitable War in Iraq, including the coincidental run up of oil profits for their buddies back in Texas. (It's not a good sign for our current rulers that the extremely conservative Washington Times and UPI run a story like this on contract abuse in Iraq). And the rampant corruption in post-storm contracting by the Corps and FEMA, often discussed in this forum, is now well understood.

Bush was elected by convincing people he was one of them, a regular guy. But the regular people I know, Republicans included, don't show the sociopathic lack of empathy exhibited by the current ruling party. Sure, there are thousands of people running around Gulf Coast profiting from the misery of others, but they aren't the President or Cabinet Secretaries or other officials charged with providing for the general welfare.

In the context of the performance of the federal government in post-storm contracting, the irony of this warning from FEMA is almost beyond bearing.

I try to avoid turning this into a political forum, since so many of in our deeply polarized citizenry will brook no criticism of their preferred leaders. I don't want them to turn away from what I have to say. Sometimes, it's can't be avoided. The way in which the federal government has shirked its responsibility at every turn is too central to the story. In my view, it doesn't matter what party is responsible. Corruption in Baton Rouge, such as Blanco steering contracts to the Shaw Group or on Loyola Avenue, are equally damaging to our future.

Simply take this as a reminder that, as Ashley pointed out long ago, we are going to have to rely on Ourselves Alone.

Markus, great post but I have to pick a couple of nits. First, as the link shows, Shaw bought off officials in both D.C. and B.R. Not that that absolves Blanco. Albright (need to check on the compay) seems to have done the same in Miss. and Washington.

Second, the GAO study (FEMA link) seemed important at the time, but ended up being of little value. It specifically avoided waste caused by corruption, it only looked into waste caused by poor planning. It's beginning to look like that was taken as a nod and a wink toward cronyism.

I'm afraid that all the posturing about straightening out the contracting process only caused a delay in reconstruction and now we're right back to most of the money being wasted on corruption and cronyism, almost openly. Don't know if you saw this.
"...sociopathic lack of empathy..." Gee, that just about sums it up, doesn't it?

Markus, I'm afraid that the nature of government disaster relief contracting was in place long before Katrina and The Flood. I work for a demo contractor and these are well known industry facts. Doesn't mean it doesn't suck. It's just worse this time because the disaster was so much worse. *sigh*
I meant AshBritt,don't know where I came upwith Allbright. Probably thinking of Allbaugh,theFEMA head turned lobbyist
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