Where to begin?
This is now the largest displacement of Americans since the Civil War
. The vast majority of homeowners in coastal counties of Mississippi and Alabama do not have insurance covering flood damage
In New York, there seems to be a great disconnect. Yes, the hurricane is all there is on TV and the front page. The cashiers at Duane Reade ask if you want to give a donation. And Wednesday night was windy.
Yet still it feels so far away. People don't talk about it that much, judging by everything I've seen and experienced in the last few days. Yes, when it affects us, it will matter. Gas prices are going up even further, but even with that, all of us without cars can rest content with Fung Wah or Jet Blue having to pick up the difference, at least for now.
Maybe the disconnect comes from a feeling that if there's nothing we can do, then there's no use in stressing about it. Is there something we can do? I feel more confused than ever about giving money. Isn't it -- or shouldn't it be -- the federal government's responsibility? (and if that meant, theoretically, raising taxes, that's fine).
The TV news was heavy on the feeling of desperation. And with comparisons to the tsunami, a feeling that something like the current situation is just not supposed to happen in a developed country.
But who to blame when it is, after all, a "natural disaster"? There's plenty in the news already (both mainstream and liberal, and even conservative) about FEMA funding having been cut and about failure to fund the levees protecting New Orleans. These are certainly important issues, and there are obviously some people who deserve blame.
In the bigger picture, though, we can't forget the issue of global warming. As Ross Gelbspan wrote
in an op-ed in Tuesday's Globe, extreme weather events such as Katrina have become more frequent and more extreme thanks to global warming. We know this. We don't know enough yet to be able to say to what extent climate change is a factor in events like Katrina, but we know it is a factor.
So given this, shouldn't Global Capital be saving it's own ass, and preventing global warming, so that there aren't even more extreme weather events, which, say, destroy factories and raise oil prices? (Or so goes Dave's argument). Maybe yes, maybe no. To what extent is Global Capital actually suffering from an event like the hurricane? That's a hard question.
On a final note, some interesting reviews of the political situation can be found in Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing, from Wednesday