Tim (Taocat) says (in response to something in yesterday's Commonplace Book): "Interesting note: I was speaking with a guy last night who is in the Montana Air National Guard. He has served in both Iraq (behind the lines) and in Louisiana. He told me that Iraq wasn't bad - he would be ok going back, but New Orleans was awful. What surprised me was his reasons: In Iraq, he said, there were fewer bullets whizzing past your head. In New Orleans, he said, everyone was demanding, like 'my house was destroyed and now you owe me. You need to clean that garbage out of my yard.'"

My response ran so long, I decided to post it as a blog entry (and it gives me a chance to post cool pictures of Fate Marable, Kid Ory, Buddy Bolden, and the infant Louis Armstrong):

Here's how I would have responded (assuming I had my wits about me) :

1) Take the tax dollars paid by Louisianans to the federal government and multiply by the number of years since the Army Corps of Engineers started maintaining levees. Don't forget the price of US imports and exports that travel through Gulf Coast ports and the Mississippi River. (Don't ask him to think about the priceless contributions of New Orleans to American culture; let's stick to dollars, and not confuse the philistines.)

2) Subtract Louisiana's percentage of federal taxes from the money being pissed away in Iraq ($237,964,700,000 at the moment, but who's counting?)

3) Now the administration is wondering if we can save New Orleans at all? You bet I'm pissed.

Simple humanity tells us that the job of clearing away the garbage is overwhelming. After a flood, it's not just your wreckage in the front yard. Where do you start? Where do you put it all? Who hauls it away? If the National Guard of Montana is going to be used to build schools in Iraq, they can damn well clean mold in New Orleans. Oh, wait, that's not their job, is it? Gosh, we don't want the president changing the mission of the National guard arbitrarily...

You can also tell him that the Louisianans you know (by one handshake removed) are not the indigent po' folks not worth saving (I'm being ironic) shown in television clips. Lewis' father is a research scientist, the Beautiful (sigh) Monica's an educator, her husband's a banker, etc., etc.... (Also note that I said 'by one handshake removed', if anybody gets to hug Monica in this thought experiment, it's going to be me.)

I'm curious to know why we haven't taken the Netherlands approach to our battle with the sea. I hear they've brought in some Dutch engineers recently, and I'll be curious to hear what they say.

See Also:
Supreme Court re. Eminent Domain,
Flaming Assholes Speak to the Citizens of New Orleans,
If a Social Darwinst Dies, Should Any of Us Care?,
Louisiana's National Guard in Iraq,
Spasm bands, Louis, and New Orleans History,
Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil (yeah, like any of these guys have an ounce of shame left in their bodies)


Taocat said...

I'm not even one handshake removed - I contacted a good friend from Grad school Cheryl, the person who gave me my intro to New Orleans. She had evacuated ahead of the storm and sustained flood damage to her home.

But Michael, no one could have anticipated the breach of the levies - except of course the engineers and the experts - but what the hell do they know? Maybe in another 10 years Jeb Bush can tell us that no one could have anticipated that whole "global warming" thing that led to the melting of the polar ice caps. That's our story and we're staying the course.

I don't think that this National Guard guy was complaining about removing debris or cleaning mold, I think he was just saying that his perception of the attitude toward the National Guard personel was not one of "we're happy you're here to help" but rather something more personal - but then again, the National Guard are basically representatives of the government in LA, and since the good people of New Orleans can't get their hands on Brownie or W., it makes sense that their frustration would be directed at the nearest government entity available.

Ormondroyd's Encyclopedia Esoterica said...

I forgot about Cheryl, sorry.
You're absolutely right about people venting their frustration on the nearest government representative. Bush II was famously surprised by the breech, but then the Republicans have been pro-technology and anti-science since the Reagan administration.
As for Bush III, they're way ahead of us, pal. The new Republicans accept global warming as an inevitable fact-- but just imagine all the business opportunities that's going to open up for the entrepreneur!