Could this ever happen in response to Katrina?

Is it even remotely possible that once we returned home from volunteering, helping, donating and doing the things that we as Americans do well, that we could possibly direct just a fraction of that energy towards calling, writing and emailing our Congressperson and Senator and ask that monies that had been directed towards projects that no longer seem as important be redirected to financing the funding that our President has earmarked for relief?

Projects that have been called into question by various media outlets supporting Rap Songs or Highway Bill projects that were described as “Egregious and remarkable,” by Sen. John McCain, refering to the estimated $24 billion in the bill set aside for highways, bus stops, parking lots and bike trails.

Maybe Sen. McCain and other politicians can use their podiums to ask for states and municipalities to redirect some of the money to be received for what are now, relatively less important projects, when compared to the unexpected financial needs created by Hurricane Katrina devastation, towards relief projects.

It may be projects to support evacuees who have relocated to their states or cities, orto help the Gulf Coast areas impacted

Sometimes it makes sense to re-evaluate where the dollars are going when circumstances change. If ever there is a time, this is it.

It’s just a thought I throw out there for discussion.

44 thoughts on “Could this ever happen in response to Katrina?

  1. You’ll see that happen…it’s good PR.
    Anton is correct, everyone knew something like this was going to happen, crossing their fingers everytime a storm went toward the city. But nobody, including the federal government, including the media channels, made it a big enough issue to create change.

    Comment by runescape money -

  2. We citizens went back to our routines… worrying about our personal disasters and celebrating our personal successes. Our government adopted a philosphy which many of us thought was flawed; we protested, yet did failed to impress.

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  3. You’re a smart man Mark. Steve Young of eBay is running for governor of California, you should run for something.

    Comment by process -

  4. very good!

    Comment by 11nong -

  5. I agree it would be awesome to stop the pork spending and put the money into meaningful projects but it’s not gonna happen.

    Volunteering and giving to hurricane victims makes us FEEL GOOD. Calling or emailing a Senator feels more like work, and it’s boring, and it seems like going through the motions. Why call a Senator when you know your voice doesn’t make a difference?

    Comment by ellison -

  6. I definetely agree that there is an abundance of dollars being spent that should be ‘redirected’ as you said, to more relief efforts. There are people and rescue groups who would greatly benefit from a financial ‘breath of fresh air’ – not to mention the victoms directly impacted. Thanks for your comments here.

    Comment by rash guards -

  7. Note that this is also the only way to achieve the maximum benefit from those dollars.

    Comment by pp -

  8. This is really very interesting. I feel the points which you raised in the article are geniune and needs to be observed carefully. Keep the good work going buddy!!

    Comment by Amber -

  9. Funds will need to be redirected from somewhere. I don’t mind giving up some of the arts funds, but it can be difficult taking away highway funds because that will mean taking money away from the states, and that battle could be ugly.
    New Orleans has been in trouble for over 100 years, especially for the past 40 years. Levee improvements were being made, but it was a 20-year plan and there was actually a budget surplus a couple of years ago. Remember also that money set aside for the state was spent on environmental projects and canal improvements, so it was to some extent LA’s decision not to significantly improve the levys. It is also impossible to really “fix” the levys because the city is built on marshland, and as much as you can try to build up the levys, they will just continue to sink and would have to constantly be built back up.
    The city and state plan for disasters, meet and conduct exercises on an annual basis. Disaster response is from the local level up, with most of the responsiblility falling on the state. Has anyone actually read these plans? It calls for bussing out those with special needs, as well as the poor, to safe shelters, after the mandatory evac order is given. That didn’t happen, and I’ve yet to hear why.
    Also, the Red Cross and FEMA were stationed outside the city before the hurricane hit, and the LA national guard said they did not want supplies going in because it would only encourage people to stay when they should be leaving.
    Aside from this, no one has ever had to mobilized and evacuate tens of thousands of people in the entire history of this country. Just trying to coordinate it was a logistical nightmare – there was no clear road in or out (debris, flooding, washed out roads and bridges), you could not land a plane at the airfield (for similiar reasons), the waterways were not navigable at the time, and they were having to deal with a continuous flow of water (imagine trying to help the tsunami victims if the wave never pulled back out).
    Remember, too, that it initially appeared that NO survived the hurricane, and a lot of relief efforts were redirected to the hardest-hit areas near Gulfport.
    I have a suggestion: it shouldn’t take a catastrophe for us to help out others. Every year, many lose their homes to catastrophe. Some of these people feel forgotten now because they were not offered even a fraction of the aid that Katrina victims are receiving. It is no less tragic for someone in Georgia to lose everything than it is for someone from New Orleans. Just something to think about, folks.

    Comment by Rae -

  10. For the cost of a day and a half in Iraq ($300 million), the levees and pumps could’ve been upgraded to avoid or mitigate this disaster. A responsibility that falls to the feds. But hey, at least we’re in Iraq forcing the government to provide all its citizens national healthcare. That’s what’s important.

    Comment by Mark -

  11. Or, you know, we could bring our troops home from Iraq three weeks earlier. That would pay for the entire Katrina relief effort.

    Three weeks. That’s all it takes.

    And it would save 80-100 American lives in the process.

    Maybe it’s time that we started asking what our real goals in Iraq are, and when we decide to bring out troops home.

    Comment by BrodyV -

  12. Roman Eagle has the right idea here. Instead of everyone “flaming” about who screwed what up when, instead of saying this is just part of the messed up system, or “It’s the American Way”, maybe we should look at the system itself, the honest and hardworking people who represent it, and try to figure out a way to become part of it, and work to change from within.

    It’s a lot easier to place blame to to effect change, and I see a lot of people taking the easy way out on this one.

    For those of you who think this tragedy is being driven by the american dollar or party politics, I pity how nieve you are, and how easily you can be manipulated by a biased media. For every story about who screwed up, I will guarentee there are ten not being told about what has gone exactly right.

    When, I keep asking myself, did it become cool and normal, or as roman put it “chic”, to hate our own country?

    Churchill once said”Many forms of
    Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin
    and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise.
    Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of
    Government except all those other forms that have been tried
    from time to time; but there is the broad feeling in our country
    that the people should rule, continuously rule, and that public
    opinion, expressed by all constitutional means, should shape,
    guide, and control the actions of Ministers who are their servants
    and not their masters.”

    That is STILL a promising gift.

    Comment by Joshua -

  13. I’m writing the representatives today
    Val Barrutia

    Comment by val barrutia -

  14. I believe the lack of proper governmental response to the aftermath of Katrina is easily explained.

    The focus and interest of US government resources is and has been abroad for several generations.

    How can we expect to take care of people within our own borders when the focus has been on building wealth world wide?

    The enemy of the US is not terrorists, it’s the divide between rich and poor. The terrorist scare movement is simply a smoke screen to implement foreign and domestic policy that is in direct conflict with the proper care and feeding of human life here at home and world wide.

    Katrina simply exposed the US governments true character! !

    One Nation Under The All Mighty Dollar.

    Comment by Jack -

  15. From the outside the US seems to be run by big companies and lobbyists even more than my own country. Especially the current government has some really powerful lobbies behind them. Do you think they would sacrifice their personal projects for a better relief funding?

    I’m really surprised that no one brought up an environmental program to be installed. No one really can deny the concept of global warming and it’s influences on natural catastrophies. Actually the US is the only country in the world denying it. But how do you explain the increase in devastating hurricanes and typhoons? Statistical anomalies? Bad luck?
    I personally tend to believe scientists who have studied the gulf stream, the motor of world climate, for decades. The important water circulation is slowing down due to rises of water and air temperatures thereby affecting a lot of climatic changes, including a notable weather change in west africa. This is the place where most of the hurricanes that strike the US form themselves. While I must admit that no scientist can really prove this and there are more factors to be considered, the world’s leading environmetal scientists aggree on this.
    But even if there is no direct link between these two phenomena, why risk it? It will hurt our economy is the argument I’ve heard more than a few times. Will it?
    The US is the leading country concerning the research of renewable energies and ecology friendly production. Why not use it? Oh wait…who will be the only loser in this deal?

    SIGN KYOTO!

    Comment by Robert -

  16. Mark,

    Will you please run for president, and soon? I don’t care what political party you represent, I just want someone like you in the White House.

    Mike

    Comment by Michael Arrington -

  17. Couldn’t agree more. But there are a lot of us who have fallen because there is no safety net!!! Not even for those of us who have worked for years. There is no safety net – it is a dog eat dog society. If you can help, please visit my blog
    http://www.helppaymyrent.squarespace.com

    Comment by Fabulous Fannie -

  18. I just ask myself one thing. After the 2500 death at 9/11, is George W. now calling out the war against pollution and earth destruction as he did declare the war against terrorism. It would be the only logical conclusion out of this drama. But is there still anything logical with this person???

    Someone from Europe

    Comment by Christophe -

  19. Mark,

    That scenario is unlikely, I think the bigger question we should be asking is how is all of this 51.8 BILLION dollars going to spent????????????? I am extremely concerned with what their plan of action is for the future?

    Comment by Brandon Goldman -

  20. Maybe the US Government should identify what other dangerous situations like The New Orleans sub standard levies are still lurking out there. The bottom line is if a $1B was spent over the last 6 years to shore up the levies the Us Economy would have saved up to $200B now need……. But more importantly would have saved possibly 10,000 souls.

    It’s like preventive medicine a dollar invested now will save 100’s that will be spent in the future.

    Frank

    Comment by Frank -

  21. Mark,

    Wasn’t this going to happen after 9/11?? Weren’t we as citizens and the government as our agent going to change?

    We citizens went back to our routines… worrying about our personal disasters and celebrating our personal successes. Our government adopted a philosphy which many of us thought was flawed; we protested, yet did failed to impress.

    My favorite suggestion for eliminating pork came from Dave Barry. He suggested that his cabinet (when he was elected prez) would be headed by his spinsterly aunt. Any dollar spent by the government would have to be OKd by her. Make the reason clear and good and she’d OK your spending… obfuscate or waste funding on pork, and you’d be vetoed.

    Could we ask all our congressmen and senators to be their own “spinsterly aunts?” I wish that saying that could make it happen, but it’s not the nature of the job.

    Comment by Debra -

  22. Kathleen Blanco declared a state of emergency on Friday, Aug. 26, when Katrina was a Category 2 hurricane. She requested help from the Pentagon that same day. Bush dropped the ball.

    Comment by randy moss -

  23. FEMA Director: I will tell you this though, every person in that convention center, we just learned about that today.

    Paula Zahn: Sir, you’re not telling me, you’re not telling me you just learned that the folks at the convention center didn’t have food and water until today did you? You had no idea they were completely cut off?

    FEMA Director: Paula, the federal government did not even know about the convention center people until today. (September 1st)

    Apparently nobody from FEMA turned on the TV.

    George Bush appointed the FEMA Director, even though he was fired from the International Arabian Horse Association. That’s incompetence.

    Comment by randy moss -

  24. Mark,
    Thanks for being here. I have issues but I am a young college student. My voice is not heard. Yours is, and you repeat the same sentiment that we do.

    Thanks for being an “accessable rich boy”.

    -The last NBA fan in South Carolina
    Joel F

    Comment by Joel -

  25. Mark, I just wanted to comment on your last post – about the donations. When I visited a local furniture store [small, but very prominent in Houston], I was sorely disappointed with the way things were organized. I wanted to help update the red cross list of area shelters [to help refugees locate area housing] and I wanted to make sure that these places were 1. still open and 2. not filled to capacity. I was told five minutes into my research that I was to stop calling shelters because they did not want my actions overshadowing those of the congressman who put together the list. It was very disappointing. This has become a political staging for votes. Who can get the most volunteers. Who can get the most donations. Who can get the most media coverage. It is all very sad.

    Comment by DaMasta -

  26. Can you say Pork Item Veto, rather line item veto. NO bill will ever pass if it is struck down because the fat cats have lined their porky little pockets. And it is the PEOPLE who support it. Right here in Central New York our rep brags about how much money he squeeze from the huge teet that is the US Governemt. And HE IS ELECTED time and time again. Hey Mark, I am going to send you my new government for the new millennium. The USA XP edition. If you get behind it there might be a small chance. Or not…

    Comment by Rob Thrasher -

  27. The government wastes money on things like building stadiums and arenas for rich sports team owners. For example, Jerry Jones just got his stadium approved in Arlington, Texas and the taxpayers are paying for most of it.

    The AAC where the Mavs play in Dallas was subsidized by the taxpayers.

    Public money should be used for infrastructure and not as a means of financing private enterprises.

    So, even though I think you’re a great owner, look in the mirror, Mr. Cuban!

    Comment by Cranky Greg -

  28. Right on, Mark.

    It’s easy (and quite chic) for Americans to sit back and lambast all the people who appear to have screwed up royally.

    But it’s a completely different thing for us Americans to jump into our democratic system and actually make a change. Except, that might mean that people would have to go without their TV time.

    Complaining, alongside the media, is much more vogue.

    Comment by Roman Eagle -

  29. Can you say Pork Item Veto, rather line item veto. NO bill will ever pass if it is struck down because the fat cats have lined their porky little pockets. And it is the PEOPLE who support it. Right here in Central New York our rep brags about how much money he squeeze from the huge teet that is the US Governemt. And HE IS ELECTED time and time again. Hey Mark, I am going to send you my new government for the new millennium. The USA XP edition. If you get behind it there might be a small chance. Or not…

    Comment by Rob Thrasher -

  30. “and ask that monies that had been directed towards projects that no longer seem as important be redirected to financing the funding that our President has earmarked for relief ?”

    You’ll see that happen…it’s good PR.

    Anton is correct, everyone knew something like this was going to happen, crossing their fingers everytime a storm went toward the city. But nobody, including the federal government, including the media channels, made it a big enough issue to create change. Our attentions were on our troops, the Dow, Paris Hilton’s ring size, whatever the media told us to pay attention to.

    Now the world has seen the negligence. Now it has been in every media outlet. Now you will see change…only now. The spotlight is on them, the desicion makers and policy creators, they need the PR. While I believe some members of government went into their business for the right reasons, but I also believe those right reasons will always be trumped by the need for good appearance. Hollywood has nothing on our government.

    We’ve seen how fast our government can react with the right demand, but don’t expect change without demanding it. So…demand, they need the PR.

    Comment by Drew -

  31. But its so much easier just to keep all the spending, and pay extra by accumulating more debt. Its The American Way.

    Comment by Bruce -

  32. Mark, it is a decent suggestion that those tax dollars be re-allocated in light of changed circumstances. But an even better idea is to ask your Congressman and Senators to give that money back to the citizens through some form of tax relief AND REDUCED SPENDING.

    (Note that this is also the only way to achieve the maximum benefit from those dollars.)

    Comment by Garrett -

  33. Not to be completely cynical, but I hope you all have a solid grasp on the fact that it is (unfortunately) a politician’s job to “bring home the bacon” to their own district, not to earn karma by giving that bacon to those who really need it.

    I think that one important thing to take from this is that this country needs to re-evaluate what our priorities are…we can pay now, or pay later. Playing devil’s advocate here, I don’t see why my district should have to suffer because our federal government was too inept/cost-concious/whatever to reinforce levees that would have saved many lives. At least none of us are naive enough to think this might lead to a discussion of the massive tax breaks given to the uber-rich back in 2002. Instead, let’s keep talking in circles with words like “sacrifice” and the like…

    Hopefully you all have seen the Times-Picayune’s analysis of June 24(?) 2002, when they called a major disaster a matter of “if, not when” – if you haven’t, it’s quite phophetic. Again, this would have been an investment in a city that the federal government did not want to make, and now they must not only be held accountable for the lives lost, but also for ineptitude of their own emergency procedures, and now America must not only deal with a huge loss, but also must endure months of finger-pointing by officials.

    Anyway, now that I’m completely off track, I’d like to make the point that we should find out where exactly our Homeland Security / Emergency Preparation dollars have been going before we ask states to give back some of their pork barrel $.

    Comment by Anton -

  34. “Sometimes it makes sense to re-evaluate where the dollars are going when circumstances change. If ever there is a time, this is it.”

    I think this advise can be taken on a personal, regional and national level. I’m not sure how, but it’s made me question myself about a lot of things – like if I am prepared to help myself, and to help others.

    There was a fire drill in the 18 story building I live in recently. the first one since I moved into a big place like that, and I stood outside thinking I was gettting a fraction of what so many in affected areas had to deal with.

    I’m only on the second floor, but I found myself thinking about all the older less able people on higher floors, and how they’d manage.

    I hope we can all learn from this, and remember well after the headlines fade.

    Comment by dg -

  35. So elected public leaders should think of the overall good, rather than just take whatever they can get for their districts in order ensure their re-election?

    Elected officials should vote for and create projects that spend money where it is needed to solve problems before they become unmanageable?

    Rather than funnel public funds into pork projects benefitting their cronies, past employers or campaign contributors?

    That sounds like a country that used to exist 200 years ago. “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country” – Patrick Henry. Where people used to riot because of a silly little import tariff on tea. But that’s unrealistic in today’s world.

    Where would all the money to run multibillion dollar campaigns come from? Why should people vote for someone who doesn’t promise them big federal grants, nice bike paths or jobs? God forbid an incumbent should lose his or her seat!

    Take time to read “Crossing the Rubicon” or “The Party’s Over” or watch the movie “The Corporation” and you will understand why that won’t happen with today’s system or leaders.

    Comment by Russ Martin -

  36. Great sentiment, but this is closing the barn door after the horses have escaped. What about the funds that were supposed to have been spent on the levees that were withdrawn in favor of “more important” needs?

    I agree that we need to fund relief, but real change — if you’re interested in that — will come by finding the group of scientists and planners who is out there somewhere right now warning about another catastrophe that could be averted by applying a fraction of the funds we will eventually spend reviving the gulf coast.

    Comment by David Lambert -

  37. This is not Bush’s fault. The Governor of Louisiana delayed federal help and the Mayor of NO flat out left people stranded. You do not send 10’s of 1,000’s of people to a safe site and NOT have the help there they need. There is a certain level of local control and responsibilty that was not maintained. In defense of anyone and everyone involved, this catastrophe was far worse than anyone could have imagined with the hurricane then the resulting flood. You can’t blame them for not being prepared for 9/11, and you can’t blame them for not being prepared for this. You can only help the needy and put things in place so that when something like this happens again, and it will, everyone is better prepared.

    Comment by Stacey -

  38. I think that is an excellent idea Mark, I plan to call my Congressman and Senators in Colorado and request exactly that, shared sacrifice. Moreover, I think it would be a tremendous service to have a Web site set up that shows, state-by-state, Congressional district-by-Congressional district what pork barrell projects your representatives secured – on your behalf – that you might be willing to part with. If ever there was a time for shared sacrifice, this is it.

    Comment by Usher Lieberman -

  39. I think that is a wonderful idea.

    Comment by eddie -

  40. Good thought… if only the US Government ran more like a business.

    Comment by Rhylan -

  41. but he didn’t have the first foggy clue how to manage a major crisis. And folks died because of it.

    Once Bush declared a state of emergency, which he did before Katrina hit Nola, it was his show. He was, as Mayor Nagin, the main cook in the kitchen. He is responsible for any inaction at any level. You can’t expect a mayor to control Fema and national guard, can you? No one would listen to him!

    Bush was the one to call the shots, plenty of military have come out and said they were waiting, the Navy was waiting, for Bush to send the order. The military cannot enter the city without authorization from the President. This is not something that can be managed at the state level. It just isn’t feasible.

    So the responsibility lies with Bush. The American people now have a task – to decide if they are going to believe that the federal government “had no idea this could happen”. It’s even been reported by the mainstream media that scientists have been saying for years the dangers present in Nola. The attention span of Americans is getting a stiff test right now. Here’s hoping the pictures of people in the Superdome and Convention Center shock people into reality…

    Comment by Beau -

  42. Great insight Mark. The only problem you might have is convincing the people with a vested interest in seeing spending go a certain way that it would be better if that money went somewhere else.

    Comment by Keith -

  43. Better yet, how about we give 10 minutes thought before voting?

    In light of Katrina and the destruction of New Orleans, I think that when considering political candidates in the future, folks should focus less on party affiliation, race, creed, sex or whether a candidate is “for” or “against” gay marriage, abortion, etc. and really focus on whether this person can halp save your life in a catastrophe.

    Let’s face it, the mayor of New Orleans may have been a nice guy. He may have had a million dollar smile and had a great gift for remembering names … but he didn’t have the first foggy clue how to manage a major crisis. And folks died because of it.

    Comment by Jeff Davis -

  44. I have already written my Senators and Representative from Texas asking them to use the $24 billion in pork barrel projects for Hurricane Katrina rebuilding. I think every state should give up something. In addition, Congress should rollback the tax breaks that were approved during this administration. We cannot afford to increase the federal deficit. We all must learn to do without and pay our debts.

    Comment by Jim Sawyer -

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