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Sunday, August 28, 2005

It is Sunday evening, and a massive hurricane is about 180 miles south of New Orleans. The best information indicates that this storm is going to hit the city almost dead center. If you are unfamiliar with the particular geography of New Orleans, and the surrounding area, I would encourage you to read this article. It's a few years old, but it is still accurate.

The point is, it is not out of the realm of possibility that in one week's time, perhaps 100,000 Americans will be dead from this storm. Even if it is only a small percentage of this amount, it will be catastrophic. There will be no outrage. There will be no telethon. There will be no massive federal bureaucracy created to move vulnerable Americans away from this dangerous stretch of coast. Available national guard troops will be mobilized to gather up bodies and attempt a cleanup of devastated areas, which may not be inhabitable for at least six months. Insurance companies will file bankruptcy, and the government will once again bail out industrial interests.

What am I getting at? On September 11th, 2001, three thousand Americans were murdered by terrorists, in an event that, to be fair, was not likely to have been prevented. We shall see what happens this week, but sadly, the carnage of 9/11 will be multiplied many times over along the Gulf Coast. It may be entirely similar to the horrors that followed the tsunami that hit Asia last December. We have spent, between creating a new Cabinet-level agency, and fighting a war, the better part of one trillion dollars to avenge the deaths of, and prevent further killing of Americans in the United States.

The deaths that will occur in the American south over the next several weeks were preventable, every single one of them. Almost nothing is spent on the type of civil defense that would be used to evacuate a city like New Orleans. The government could easily declare this area unsafe, or claim eminent domain to move people out of harm's way. We concern ourselves with remote possibilities like being killed by terrorists. It ain't gonna happen. You're a thousand times more likely to be killed in a car wreck, die of a heart attack, or be stabbed or shot by a loved one.

Our lack of perspective, and willingness to give in to the politics of fear are killing us.

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posted at 6:25 PM

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