Freedom Socialist Party Statement on the Hurricane Katrina Tragedy:
- September 4, 2005
Freedom Socialist Party Statement on the Hurricane Katrina Tragedy:
CAPITALISM'S COLLATERAL DAMAGE:TO BE POOR, BLACK AND DYING IN NEW
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the suffering in New Orleans and
along a 400-mile stretch of the Gulf Coast has shown the world the
searing realities of race and class in the United States. The life-
and-death divide along skin color and wealth is being discussed on
the front pages, on news broadcasts, and in local responses to the
tragedy. An additional truth, so familiar it goes unrecognized, is
the fact that the U.S. poor are overwhelmingly women of color, their
kids, elders, and people with disabilities. These are the people who
felt the brunt of the storm, the poisonous flood waters, and the
unfeeling disdain of the Bush administration. Far from being an
isolated calamity, the disaster in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast is
the direct result of capitalism's pursuit of the almighty dollar
at the expense of those judged disposable by virtue of their race,
gender and earning ability.
Hard times in the Big Easy
The overwhelming majority of those unable to escape New Orleans
before Katrina hit were poor and Black. The city is one of the
most impoverished in the U.S.: nearly a third of the population lives
in want. The city is wracked by corruption, with police brutality,
low-paying jobs, unemployment, rampant racism, failing schools, and
high levels of violence against women. More than two-thirds of New
Orleans' inhabitants were African American, many of them
descendents of the slaves who built the city. In the Lower Ninth
Ward, a neighborhood that was one of the hardest hit, more than 98%
After the storm subsided, TV cameras showed wrenching images
of thousands in New Orleans trapped on rooftops, searching for food
and water amidst the devastation, or starving and thirsty in
putrid "shelters." News watchers were horrified by the images
of the dead lying for days in the streets or floating in the waters
submerging the city. The number of those who died in Katrina's
aftermath is still unknown, but presumed to be in the thousands.
Despite the outrages, the frustration, injuries, illness and
mounting, justifiable anger, the survivors showed a tremendous amount
of compassion and solidarity. Reports of heroism and selflessness
have filtered out. A TV news story told of several mothers who put
their 17 children in a rowboat and asked a man to row them to safety,
while they stayed behind in the rising waters. A Canadian reporter
countered the stories of chaos in the streets with the
testimony, "What I see are young people taking care of old
people, the relatively healthy caring for the sick, people sharing
their paltry supplies. It's true there's crime and violence,
but tempers are terribly frayed, and feelings of hopelessness
Too little help, too late
Officials' lack of concern for the people in harm's way was
shown as the storm approached when Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco
told residents to "pray the hurricane down" to a Category 2,
while refusing to mobilize transport for those who had no way to
leave the city.
President Bush and federal agencies responded callously,
sluggishly, and inadequately. Rapper Kanye West spoke the feelings of
many African Americans when he said on national television that the
U.S. is set up "to help the poor, the Black people, the less
well-off as slow as possible." He added: "George Bush
doesn't care about Black people."
Bush additionally insulted the survivors with his pronouncements
about getting tough with looters. The media whipped up hysteria about
"armed thugs" creating lawless mayhem. When people of color
fought for the food and supplies they needed to survive, police were
ordered to stop looking for survivors in order to guard Wal-Marts.
Numerous killings by police are receiving little media attention.
But unsubstantiated and inflammatory stories about wholesale violence
and rapes are getting international play. White supremacists are
having a heyday decrying rape and assault against whites by
Though food, water and transportation trickled in, the oil industry
took care of itself fast. Over 10 major refineries were knocked out
of commission in the Gulf region, but many of them were back
operating within the week. Bush released federal oil reserves, but
oil companies took the opportunity to jack up gas prices to a
criminal level. Unabashed speculation was the name of the game across
the nation, but especially in the worst hit areas where gas topped
$5.00 a gallon. Bush also moved quickly to loosen environmental
safeguards to allow more pollution by gasoline producers. All this
while the four largest oil companies ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco,
RoyalDutch/Shell Group and BP Group PLChad profits of nearly $100
billion in the last 18 months.
While politicians wring their hands over the "natural
disaster," they ignore the fact that its lethal impact was a
result of their own policies. This avoidable tragedy points out the
deadly priorities of the capitalist system, which puts profits above
The political establishment had plenty of warning that New Orleans,
below sea level and virtually surrounded by water, was vulnerable to
catastrophic flooding. Planners knew that massive evacuation of
residents would be required someday. Many reports and scientific
papers laid out the precise Katrina scenario. They warned that
unbridled development along the coast had done away with millions of
acres of wetlands that buffered coastal communities from storms.
Scientists have shown that the increased intensity of hurricanes is
associated with global warming and rising surface sea temperatures in
the Gulf of Mexico. In other words, unchecked U.S. emissions are
creating stronger hurricanes. But to address this means tackling
politicians' corporate sponsors.
For decades, the federal government under both Republicans and
Democrats -- has consciously refused to adequately maintain or
strengthen the levees that protect New Orleans. Hurricane and flood
control has received the steepest federal funding reductions in New
Orleans history own 44.2% since 2001. As Walter Maestri, emergency
management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, told The Times-
Picayune in June 2004: "It appears that the money has been moved
in the President's budget to handle homeland security and the war
in Iraq, and I suppose that is the price we pay." Requests for an
additional $250 million for Army Corps of Engineers levee work in the
delta went unmet. The message was clear: why fix levees or relocate
housing for poor and workingclass people when the inevitable
catastrophe is likely to happen on someone else's watch?
And when there is a killing to be made in expanding U.S. oil
interests in Iraq?
As the storm waters swept across the Gulf states, more than a third
of the Mississippi and Louisiana National Guard were fighting in
Iraq. Their equipment, including generators, water purification
systems and other needed life support and disaster preparedness
supplies were overseas as well. Precious hours and days were lost as
the bureaucratic machinery leadenly moved equipment from other parts
of the country.
Nothing more clearly shows the fact that this is a capitalist-made
tragedy than the real-life example of how the workers' state of
Cuba handled a similar situation. Barely a month before Katrina, on
July 14, 2005, Cuba was swept by Hurricane Dennis, like Katrina, a
Category 4 hurricane. Though impoverished by the U.S. embargo and
lacking the vast resources the U.S. has at its disposal, the Cuban
government was able to limit the death toll to 16, by smoothly
relocating over 1.5 million citizens. Surely the richest nation on
earth has the technical ability to do the same. But ability and will
are two different things.
A socialist relief plan
Hurricane Katrina displaced over 500,000 people in the Gulf Coast
region. Now the government is faced with the mammoth job of reuniting
these refugees with their loved ones, and finding them clothes, food,
medical treatment, homes, jobs, schools and more. George Bush will
utter pronouncements about refugees pulling themselves up by sheer
determination and religious faith. Halliburton and other corporations
are sidling up to the feeding trough for lucrative contracts that
will maintain the South's non-union, racist, sexist labor norms.
Public pressure is needed to prevent this despicable scenario.
Demands should include:
l. Insure immediate housing, food, medical care and childcare for
all who need it through government facilities and supplies. Turn the
Washington, DC national mall, Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas,
military bases, and Camp David into emergency shelters.
2. Institute a massive public works program and start building
housing immediately. Hire the displaced at union wages, and provide
relocation allowances and training.
3. Restitution for poor and working people who lost homes,
personal property and jobs.
4. Cancel credit card debts for everyone affected, and void all
debts on destroyed automobiles.
5. Put a national price cap on gasoline, diesel, heating oil and
natural gas, at a rate that slashes corporate profits by at least 75%.
6. Bring the National Guard and all troops home from Iraq and
Afghanistan now. Divert money from war to social programs. President
Bush asks for donations to help hurricane victims, while spending
public tax money for warlet's reverse this equation.
This crisis should bring the downfall of George Bush and the entire
Republican and Democrat supported capitalist system. It's time to
get serious about saving lives by eliminating the exploitative,
discrimination-driven profit system and replacing it with a planned,
cooperative economy run by the workers for the benefit of all
regardless of race, gender,physical ability, sexual orientation, or
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- Saluton, Glenn Kirkindall!
Vi skribis [07.09.2005]:
GK> Freedom Socialist Party Statement on the Hurricane Katrina Tragedy:
GK> CAPITALISM'S COLLATERAL DAMAGE:TO BE POOR, BLACK AND DYING IN NEW
GK> In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the suffering in New Orleans and
GK> along a 400-mile stretch of the Gulf Coast has shown the world the
GK> searing realities of race and class in the United States. The life-
It's too difficult for me to read this English text. I think that many
people can't read this message too. Socialism is equality, but you
give it only to English-speakers. "All people is equal, but
english-speakers is more equal". Other must learn English hard.
Esperanto - answer.
Tre malfacile al mi legi tiun chi anglan tekston. Mi opinias, ke ankau
multaj homoj ne povas legi la mesaghon. Socialismo estas egaleco, sed
vi donas ghin nur al anglalingvaj parolantoj. Aliaj lernu la anglan
dum multaj jaroj. "Chiuj homoj estas egalrajtaj, sed anglalingvanoj
estas pli egalrajtaj".
Esperanto - egala lingvo por egalrajtaj homoj.
Î÷åíü ñëîæíî ìíå ÷èòàòü ýòîò àíãëèéñêèé òåêñò. ß ïîëàãàþ, ÷òî ìíîãèå
ëþäè òîæå èñïûòûâàþò òðóäíîñòè. Ñîöèàëèçì - ýòî ðàâåíñòâî, íî âû äàåòå
ýòî ðàâåíñòâî òîëüêî òåì, êòî âëàäååò àíãëèéñêèì ÿçûêîì. "Âñå ëþäè
ðàâíû, íî àíãëîÿçû÷íûå áîëåå ðàâíû".
Ýñïåðàíòî - ñïðàâåäëèâûé ÿçûê äëÿ ðàâíîïðàâíûõ ëþäåé.