I know this is an old topic but I was reminded of it while listening to NPR talk radio the other day.
NPR reported on why there are still thousands of people who still lack electricity and heat two weeks after Hurricane Sandy. Some problems that led to the shortage of amenities was the lack of electricians, presumably, the radio said, due to city to city permits that only allowed electricians to work in their city. This sounds like a classic case of protectionism but who knows, the wiring requirements may differ from city to city (though I doubt it). That is besides the point.
Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast hard, an especially bad thing in highly dense states like New Jersey, New York. Estimates for the damage range from billion in New Jersey to billion in New Jersey.
Sandy was predicted days before and state and local governments urged residents to evacuate. Despite this, many residents stayed, downplaying the degree of the storm, and over 100 people died as a result.
Unlike Hurricane Katrina, whereby governments provided bussing out of the area, east coast officials did no such thing. Sandy’s damages totaled to about $50 billions in property damage, second behind Hurricane Katrina by $58 billion (source NOAA, pg. 5), and thousands are still suffering, yet, Kanye West was no where to be found. Everyone remembers his statement that “George Bush didn’t like black people” on camera alongside Austin Powers during a fundraising concert for the displaced Katrina victims. Such a statement was obviously not scripted so this act was either premeditate or said spontaneously out of passion. My guess is the former.
What would lead West to concur that Bush Jr. didn’t care about Black people? As many have pointed out, Bush’s cabinet had more Black people than any previous president, including the so called “first Black president” Bill Clinton and even the current one.
So, again, I ask, what possibly led West to believe such a thing and make a bold claim with bo base?
I can’t look into West’s head but like many Black people they witnessed the condition of the damaged areas, specifically New Orleans, after the storm, people begging for help on roofs, orders to shoot on site and the police handling of looters(1), and concluded that the black suffering was a result of the federal government’s indifference or disregard for Black people.
Now we have a Hurricane Sandy hitting mostly white, suburban areas and two weeks after the disaster, thousands are still in the east coast winter without heat or electricity. Does President Obama care about white people? Using West’s logic, no.
This is a problem that I’ve longed harped about, and that is the double standards of Obama’s presidency. Black people are so scared to harshly criticize the President, if at all, because, presumably he’s “our guy” and we better not team up on him. Instead, shut up, fall in line and team up against those racist white people and the Republican Party. It’s the classic Us vs. Them play; it hurts us and only benefits the political elites.
The real beef is not with Bush or Obama but with government; it’s expensive, lethargic, incompetent, etc. The government, in the natural disaster case FEMA, is not good at handling problems, much less wide spread emergencies, and we all–Black, White, Latino, Asian, poor, rich–suffer from the inherent features of government. In fact, many, including myself, contend government worsens (many times perceived) problems.
Without government, how on earth could we handle such disasters, you ask? There are private organizations such as Red Cross, Salvation Army, Direct Relief International, etc that are better suited for handling disasters. There are no lack of funds, as Americans are the biggest private donators in the world (note: Americans are also the richest). In fact, American private donations exceeded government aid in 2007 (p. 26). Donations totaled to $4 billion for Katrina and over $40 million for Sandy so far.
Other relief efforts such as entertainment, food and logical assistance must be taken into account as well. Entertainers and celebrities, with CDs and concerts, play a huge role in relief efforts as well.
In addition, private flood insurance–gasp! natural disaster profiteering–would be a much better solution instead of the current tax payer funded insurance programs, which essentially subsidizes and guarantees repair for destroyed homes in extremely high risk zones. This leaves no incentive for the homebuilder to build else where; what economist call a moral hazard is removed from decision making. Now the tax payer is put on the hook for homes–luxurious ones I might add–built in extremely risky areas that no private insurance would dare cover, at least without a high premium.
Kanye West is apart of the Hurricane Sandy benefit lineup, along with the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, Alicia Keys and several other A-class entertainers, on 12-12-12 and good for him. That’s the right thing to do, I believe. But he shouldn’t make ludicrous claims and hold presidents to different standards. I’ve already expressed that we should ignore celebrities when it comes to politics but when it comes to West, we should ignore pretty much everything that leaves his mouth that isn’t on an album or radio–and even that could be ignored.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Bab. Check out his politcial and social commentary blog MindsAlike.
(1) There is a lot of confusion on where the order to shoot looters came from. Some conclusions lead to Warren Riley, NOPD police superintendent, a black man. Others point to a phrase said by then Mayor Nagin, a black man, as stated above, on the radio in regards to martial law. Pro Publica has an excellent updated piece on the whole ordeal.