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Katrina's Vital Lessons


Katrina's Vital Lessons

Rhea Suh

President Obama goes to New Orleans on Thursday to mark the Gulf region's struggle to recover from not one disaster but two: Hurricane Katrina and the collapse of the levee system that swamped the Crescent City 10 years ago this week.


It’s fashionably hip and politically correct to push the WE are all responsible item. Nonetheless, THIS tells the story:

“Over the previous eight decades, Louisiana had lost more than 1,900 square miles of coastal wetlands, enough to cover the state of Delaware. The oil and gas industry had sliced the coast to ribbons for some 10,000 miles of pipeline routes and navigation canals and sucked vast amounts of oil and gas from the ground underneath; public levees built to hold the Mississippi River in its channels prevented river-borne silts and sediments from naturally replenishing the marsh; and a warming planet had driven up sea levels along the Louisiana coast more than eight inches over 50 years, double the global average.”

The great uniform WE did not decide to turn New Orleans into a Test Case taken straight out of Naomi Klein’s “Shock Doctrine.” Casino moguls, oil barons, and morally sterile real estate entrepreneurs did THAT.

WE did not decide to build less housing units for low-income Black citizens, the spice that gave New Orleans its funky flavor in all things from creole food to music. For who did: see above.

I tire of the meme that clouds over what very specific persons and entities do or don’t do with some blanket statement addressed to the amorphous human “sea of WE.”

Until the power nexus radically alters–and collapses in the global financial system AND Mother Nature’s greater “asset pools” will make that so, little will alter. Elites have gamed the systems so that they, like “the house” always win while others lose big. Let’s not pretend that these casino owners happen to represent that more morally sound “WE, The People.”