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Freedom Socialist Party Statement on the Hurricane Katrina Tragedy:

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  • Glenn Kirkindall
    September 4, 2005 Freedom Socialist Party Statement on the Hurricane Katrina Tragedy: CAPITALISM S COLLATERAL DAMAGE:TO BE POOR, BLACK AND DYING IN NEW ORLEANS
    Message 1 of 2 , Sep 6, 2005
      September 4, 2005

      Freedom Socialist Party Statement on the Hurricane Katrina Tragedy:


      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%
      were Black.

      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
      (Toronto Star)

      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
      Black "brutes."

      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.

      Capitalism kills
      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
      human life.

      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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    • Antono Vasiljev
      Saluton, Glenn Kirkindall! Vi skribis [07.09.2005]: GK Freedom Socialist Party Statement on the Hurricane Katrina Tragedy: GK CAPITALISM S COLLATERAL
      Message 2 of 2 , Sep 7, 2005
        Saluton, Glenn Kirkindall!

        Vi skribis [07.09.2005]:

        GK> Freedom Socialist Party Statement on the Hurricane Katrina Tragedy:
        GK> ORLEANS
        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.

        Gxis reskribo!
        Antono Vasiljev.
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