Conservatism and Katrina

Today the Liberal Blogosphere is drawing attention to the failures of our government in response to (and preparation for) Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans one year ago.

Debris still clog the streets 12 months after the storm. What work has been done is tainted by price gouging and no-bid contract awards. Katrina refugees, yes American refugees, still live in trailers with no signs of change or progress.

This is due to George W. Bush's the implementation of the Republican ideology in a purer form than any seen since before FDR.

Most frightening, Katrina and the disaster in New Orleans is only the tip of the iceberg. All the problems with infrastructure in NOLA that lead to the destruction of an American city exist in infrastructure all across the nation. From the Seattle Times:

WASHINGTON -— A pipeline shuts down in Alaska. Equipment failures disrupt air travel in Los Angeles. Electricity runs short at a spy agency in Maryland.

None of these recent events resulted from a natural disaster or terrorist attack, but they may as well have, some homeland security experts say. They worry that too little attention is paid to how fast the country's basic operating systems are deteriorating.

"When I see events like these, I become concerned that we've lost focus on the core operational functionality of the nation's infrastructure and are becoming a fragile nation, which is just as bad -— if not worse -— as being an insecure nation," said Christian Beckner, a Washington analyst who runs the respected Web site Homeland Security Watch.

The American Society of Civil Engineers last year graded the nation "D" for its overall infrastructure conditions, estimating that it would take $1.6 trillion over five years to fix the problem.

"I thought [Hurricane] Katrina was a hell of a wake-up call, but people are missing the alarm," said Casey Dinges, the society's managing director of external affairs.
Katrina has shown that Republicans have no interest in maintaining our nation's vital infrastructure. It's a question of ideology. Small government conservatism laid bare.
It noted that half the 257 locks operated by the Army Corps of Engineers on inland waterways are functionally obsolete, more than one-quarter of the nation's bridges are structurally deficient or obsolete, and $11 billion is needed annually to replace aging drinking-water facilities.
What does The Decider, the Compassionate Conservative, the leader of the Republican Party have to say about that?
"Infrastructure is always a difficult issue," Bush acknowledged. "It's a federal responsibility and a state and local responsibility. And I, frankly, feel like we've upheld our responsibility at the federal level with the highway bill."
And we spend billions every week rebuilding (or not rebuilding, as the case may be) that we destroyed in the first place in Iraq.

If this is the Republican vision of America, I want no part of it. I believe that government can and should provide for the construction and maintenance infrastructure for all Americans, rich or poor. I believe that the government's greatest responsibility is for those need the most. To borrow a phrase, "The least shall be first."

As citizens in a Republic, we entrust our government with the authority and ability to provide the things necessary for the population as a whole which individuals cannot provide for themselves. Things like protection, in the form of just law enforcement and public defense, roads, dams, levees, with the common good being the motivation, not profit for favored corporations, industries, or individuals.

The Republicans have shown absolute disregard for this obligation.

As the new hurricane season starts with Ernesto bearing down on Florida, the sad consequences of a decade of Conservative government will become harder and harder to cover up with media blitzes and public relations offensives.

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