JWR publishes hundreds of right-thinking columnists and cartoonists. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.
Jewish World Review Sept. 12, 2005 / 8 Ellul,
Katrina and the poor
American middle and high school students everywhere should be
required to watch videotape of the poor people stranded by Hurricane
Katrina. Teachers should point out that many U.S. citizens without the
financial means to get out of New Orleans wound up floating face down in the
water or, at the very least, were subject to gross indignities and suffering
of all kinds.
The teachers should then tell the students that the local, state
and federal government bureaucracies failed to protect those poor people
even though everybody knew the storm was coming days in advance. The lesson
should then segue into how the most powerful nation in the world was
powerless to stop 9/11, and scores of other natural and manmade disasters
throughout our history.
After presenting those undeniable facts, the teachers should
then present two questions to the students: Do you want to be poor? And do
you believe the U.S. government can protect you if you are poor?
For far too long, charlatan ideologues and dishonest politicians
have sold the concept that government can and will make your life better.
Well, if a cot in the Astrodome is the standard, maybe the promises are
true. But if you expect the government to provide you comfort and protect
you P.T. Barnum had your number when he said, "there's a sucker born
The affluent of New Orleans had options. Most of them got out
ahead of the storm simply by turning their ignition key. But a professor
friend of mine stayed. However, when things got rough and the levees
breached, he was able to drive right out of town in his SUV.
But if you couldn't afford a vehicle, you might have wound up in
the Superdome, where there were few supplies and little security. With
20,000 folks in the building, bathrooms quickly broke down, and so did
civility. I covered the story almost non-stop for days. I didn't see one
affluent person in the Superdome. Not one.
The Bible says "the poor, they will always be with us." But it
doesn't have to be that way here in America. Here we have compulsory, free
public schools, scholarships and aid galore for higher education. We also
have affirmative action, job training, GED opportunities, military training
and options all over the place.
It is no accident that millions of poor people from all over the
world sneak into America because they can make money here if they work hard.
There are opportunities for people who can't even speak English.
Yet the racial hustlers and far left demagogues continue to sell
victimization to Americans living in the poor precincts. The poverty pimps
can't blame the establishment fast enough for ghettos and deprivation and
even hurricanes. But you rarely hear the words "personal responsibility"
when it comes to attacking the poverty problem.
Here's the end zone on this: The government can force your
parents to send you to school but can't force you to learn. If you do not
educate yourself or develop a marketable skill, chances are you will be poor
and powerless. If you react to that situation by committing crimes or
becoming addicted, you will sink further into the swamp of hopelessness and
your life will be largely meaningless.
Let the kids see the poor in New Orleans and the suffering they
endured. Then prod the children to connect the dots and wise up. Educate
yourself, work hard, and be honest. Then, when disaster occurs, you will
have a fighting chance to beat it.
If you don't do those things, the odds are that you will be
desperately standing on a symbolic rooftop someday yourself. And trust me,
help will not be quick in coming.
Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.