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Jul 13, 2002
The following article is written by Robert Tracinski, a contributing
editor for The Intellectual Activist web site, a conservative site
for people who want answers without all the hype of the liberal
media. If you are interested, you can view The Intellectual Activist

After watching the news since Katrina hit, and watching the behavior
of the people in New Orleans, I think Tracinski may have hit the nail
on the head, so to speak.

The Intellectual Activist

An Unnatural Disaster: A Hurricane Exposes the Man-Made Disaster of
the Welfare State

by Robert Tracinski
Sep 02, 2005
by Robert Tracinski
It has taken four long days for state and federal officials to
figure out how to deal with the disaster in New Orleans. I can't
blame them, because it has also taken me four long days to figure out
what is going on there. The reason is that the events there make no
sense if you think that we are confronting a natural disaster.

If this is just a natural disaster, the response for public
officials is obvious: you bring in food, water, and doctors; you send
transportation to evacuate refugees to temporary shelters; you send
engineers to stop the flooding and rebuild the city's infrastructure.
For journalists, natural disasters also have a familiar pattern: the
heroism of ordinary people pulling together to survive; the hard work
and dedication of doctors, nurses, and rescue workers; the steps
being taken to clean up and rebuild.

Public officials did not expect that the first thing they would
have to do is to send thousands of armed troops in armored vehicle,
as if they are suppressing an enemy insurgency. And
journalists--myself included--did not expect that the story would not
be about rain, wind, and flooding, but about rape, murder, and

But this is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made disaster.

The man-made disaster is not an inadequate or incompetent
response by federal relief agencies, and it was not directly caused
by Hurricane Katrina. This is where just about every newspaper and
television channel has gotten the story wrong.

The man-made disaster we are now witnessing in New Orleans did
not happen over the past four days. It happened over the past four
decades. Hurricane Katrina merely exposed it to public view.

The man-made disaster is the welfare state.

For the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans
to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to
behave in an emergency--indeed, they were not behaving as they have
behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many
people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from
America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World

When confronted with a disaster, people usually rise to the
occasion. They work together to rescue people in danger, and they
spontaneously organize to keep order and solve problems. This is
especially true in America. We are an enterprising people, used to
relying on our own initiative rather than waiting around for the
government to take care of us. I have seen this a hundred times, in
small examples (a small town whose main traffic light had gone out,
causing ordinary citizens to get out of their cars and serve as
impromptu traffic cops, directing cars through the intersection) and
large ones (the spontaneous response of New Yorkers to September 11).

So what explains the chaos in New Orleans?

To give you an idea of the magnitude of what is going on, here
is a description from a Washington Times story:

"Storm victims are raped and beaten; fights erupt with flying
fists, knives and guns; fires are breaking out; corpses litter the
streets; and police and rescue helicopters are repeatedly fired on.

"The plea from Mayor C. Ray Nagin came even as National
Guardsmen poured in to restore order and stop the looting,
carjackings and gunfire....

"Last night, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco said 300
Iraq-hardened Arkansas National Guard members were inside New Orleans
with shoot-to-kill orders.

" 'These troops are...under my orders to restore order in the
streets,' she said. 'They have M-16s, and they are locked and loaded.
These troops know how to shoot and kill and they are more than
willing to do so if necessary and I expect they will.' "

The reference to Iraq is eerie. The photo that accompanies this
article shows National Guard troops, with rifles and armored vests,
riding on an armored vehicle through trash-strewn streets lined by a
rabble of squalid, listless people, one of whom appears to be yelling
at them. It looks exactly like a scene from Sadr City in Baghdad.

What explains bands of thugs using a natural disaster as an
excuse for an orgy of looting, armed robbery, and rape? What causes
unruly mobs to storm the very buses that have arrived to evacuate
them, causing the drivers to drive away, frightened for their lives?
What causes people to attack the doctors trying to treat patients at
the Super Dome?

Why are people responding to natural destruction by causing
further destruction? Why are they attacking the people who are trying
to help them?

My wife, Sherri, figured it out first, and she figured it out
on a sense-of-life level. While watching the coverage last night on
Fox News Channel, she told me that she was getting a familiar
feeling. She studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of
Chicago, which is located in the South Side of Chicago just blocks
away from the Robert Taylor Homes, one of the largest high-rise
public housing projects in America. "The projects," as they were
known, were infamous for uncontrollable crime and irremediable
squalor. (They have since, mercifully, been demolished.)

What Sherri was getting from last night's television coverage
was a whiff of the sense of life of "the projects." Then the
"crawl"--the informational phrases flashed at the bottom of the
screen on most news channels--gave some vital statistics to confirm
this sense: 75% of the residents of New Orleans had already evacuated
before the hurricane, and of the 300,000 or so who remained, a large
number were from the city's public housing projects. Jack Wakeland
then gave me an additional, crucial fact: early reports from CNN and
Fox indicated that the city had no plan for evacuating all of the
prisoners in the city's jails--so they just let many of them loose.
There is no doubt a significant overlap between these two
populations--that is, a large number of people in the jails used to
live in the housing projects, and vice versa.

There were many decent, innocent people trapped in New Orleans
when the deluge hit--but they were trapped alongside large numbers of
people from two groups: criminals--and wards of the welfare state,
people selected, over decades, for their lack of initiative and
self-induced helplessness. The welfare wards were a mass of sheep--on
whom the incompetent administration of New Orleans unleashed a pack
of wolves.

All of this is related, incidentally, to the apparent
incompetence of the city government, which failed to plan for a total
evacuation of the city, despite the knowledge that this might be
necessary. But in a city corrupted by the welfare state, the job of
city officials is to ensure the flow of handouts to welfare
recipients and patronage to political supporters--not to ensure a
lawful, orderly evacuation in case of emergency.

No one has really reported this story, as far as I can tell. In
fact, some are already actively distorting it, blaming President
Bush, for example, for failing to personally ensure that the Mayor of
New Orleans had drafted an adequate evacuation plan. The worst
example is an execrable piece from the Toronto Globe and Mail, by a
supercilious Canadian who blames the chaos on American
"individualism." But the truth is precisely the opposite: the chaos
was caused by a system that was the exact opposite of individualism.

What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological
consequences of the welfare state. What we consider "normal" behavior
in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values
and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with
values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing
whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don't
sit around and complain that the government hasn't taken care of
them. They don't use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to
prey on their fellow men.

But what about criminals and welfare parasites? Do they worry
about saving their houses and property? They don't, because they
don't own anything. Do they worry about what is going to happen to
their businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never
worried about those things before. Do they worry about crime and
looting? But living off of stolen wealth is a way of life for them.

The welfare state--and the brutish, uncivilized mentality it
sustains and encourages--is the man-made disaster that explains the
moral ugliness that has swamped New Orleans. And that is the story
that no one is reporting.

Source: TIA Daily -- September 2, 2005