Saturday, September 03, 2005

self reliance = more freedom and vise versa

Of course I’m sympathetic to the plight of the distressed throngs in New Orleans. I wonder, though, if the various criticisms of inaction, delayed action and other such perceived government failings is warranted. The question in my mind is: do we expect too much from government? For me, the answer is clearly yes. More specifically, do we really want the state to do more than call for immediate evacuation when natural disasters are imminent? The fact is that the next step would be forcible removal of individuals against their will. I, for one, am adamantly opposed to anything of the sort.

Daedalus suggests that the FEMA director, Michael Brown, is a “heartless bastard” because he had the audacity to intimate that those who remained in New Orleans might just bear some responsibility for the predicament in which they find themselves.
What were they supposed to do, walk? Has he seen the sick and the dead? Is it so unfathomable that there are people who do not own cars? BLAME THE POOR! BLAME THE POOR! Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, and let them die!

From the televised ‘interviews’ that I’ve seen—of people that stayed behind—most admitted that they “underestimated Katrina” or “wanted to save material belongings” and the like. In my view, they ought to be free to make that decision. What I object to is the inappropriate complaining about the lack of ‘timely’ assistance for those that refused to evacuate. Certainly, those without transportation are in a different category, but at the end of the day, the responsibility for one’s wellbeing lies with the individual. At this point, the only reasonable attitude for the ‘refugees’ to have is that of unequivocal appreciation for the overwhelming display of generosity by complete strangers. Perhaps I’m a “heartless bastard” as well. So be it.

I’m not alone, in terms of my seemingly aloof outlook, with regard to this obviously tragic situation. Reality can be harsh at times; one must deal with it and move on. Don’t misunderstand, I’m not advocating for less private charity. Quite the contrary. What I'm advocating is a paradigm shift away from the irrational reliance upon the state for one’s very existence. For as this past week has shown—in painful detail—that to look to government for sustenance and survival is folly. Jorge puts it this way:
This is the first big negative. People are going to give away more freedom, for more promised "security". Which of course is a lie. But it is a comforting lie, and it is much nicer to hear than the truth, which would imply greater individual responsibility.

Liberty has also lost in another way. The gangs of marauders that have been terrorizing the helpless are another facet, and a logical consequence of, people's growing dependence on the state. The state is viewed, by potential victimizer and victim alike, as the source of order. When the state is not present, those who would prey on their fellow man feel free to do so. And they are correct, as the potential victims are unarmed, both physically and, perhaps more importantly, emotionally and intellectually. They do not know how to defend themselves. They have been told over and over, "the police will protect you". They have been told by the experts "give in, don't fight, you might get hurt." They have been disarmed. Very effectively disarmed.

From Social Security to the myriad government welfare programs (including public schools and many other things not commonly thought of as handouts) people have been trained to rely on government. They have been told to surrender responsibility to the state. They have willingly surrendered freedom along with it.

Update: Pundit Guy writes:
The anger burning in New Orleans over the past few days is justifiable. Refugees deserve an explanation.

But, their anger should not be directed at George W. Bush. Their anger should be directed at the criminals in their city, the drug addicts who held up their neighbors at gunpoint, the looters who stole from their neighborhood businesses, and the bad decisions, the bad calls, the inaction, and the ineffectiveness of their disconnected and dysfunctional local government.

Yes but, what responsibility ought to be borne by those that have made a series of ”bad decisions”, which has led to their inability to get the hell out of Dodge…or rather, the Big Easy? Past decisions are now history, but the future is that to which those affected by Katrina must direct their attention, instead of looking for someone else to blame for their poverty and lack of planning.