Left Justified: Make money off catastrophes

Liberals solve a problem by throwing money at it. Conservatives solve problems by giving money to their friends. When there’s a war, hurricane or tornado, lots of work needs to be done, preferably by professionals. Volunteers can help, but really, when there’s contamination, disease, destroyed buildings, strewn and bloated bodies, you want professionals going in and cleaning up. When disasters are immense, you want truckloads of professionals with equipment lined up for miles.

That’s why there’s an Army, a National Guard, a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): to respond to disasters that plague this human existence. All this costs money.

Now, liberals like big, expensive programs. They’re all in favor of spending hard-earned tax dollars on levees, wind turbines, civic centers, hospitals, fleets of buses and other forms of mass transit.

Neo-conservatives believe in big business. They think government should not help individuals, but help their corporate friends. When conservatives invaded Iraq, they outsourced as much as they could of that catastrophe to private companies. Unfortunately, human nature took over, and a lot of friends, relatives and political contributors got contracts, too, and didn’t follow through. Mistakes were made, but companies got paid.

Liberals like big programs, and the U.S. Army is the biggest. It’s proven itself time and again that it can handle most disasters (i.e., World War II). But the U.S. Army has to fight in Iraq, which is crawling with private armies with their own little agenda. That’s an example of what happens when conservatives attempt to privatize the military. When a contractor can’t do a job, they leave, unlike our soldiers.

What is going on in Baghdad is very similar to what is going on in New Orleans. Not enough troops and too much reliance on big business. Maybe they were figuring out how to privatize, instead of provide, hurricane relief. I don’t blame the Bush administration—$10 billion and somebody has to get it. Halliburton, or the poor, waterlogged victims who couldn’t leave New Orleans?

As we’ve heard, the poor’s got nothing anyway, so why give them anything? Give money to Bechtel and other large business concerns that know how to spend $10 billion.

I think FEMA initially thought, “who’s going to get contracts to clean up this mess?” In hindsight, they should’ve been thinking, “how can we get all those poor people out?” But that is liberal thinking.

It’s kinda like Seventh Street development here in Rockford: big bucks want to move in they don’t care about the poor people already here, who are reeling from the blows of alcoholism and neglect. Any church or self-help group is harassed in the belief that they are the ones preventing redevelopment, instead of years of moneyed interests.

Conservatives believe people have to fend for themselves, and if they can’t, then too bad—get out of the way or die. Of course, we shouldn’t play the “blame game.” There are a number of people still missing in the disaster area, and as Sean Penn did as a private individual, we have to help get those people out, count the bodies, drain the city, clean up the mess, and figure out what to save and what to relinquish to wetland. I, personally, am in favor of turning half of it back to swamplands and alligators.

So get up off your butt and do something, ’cause our government is run by a bunch of ultraconservatives.

I’m sending my money to Church World Service, which does wonderful relief work, not only here but overseas. Their CROP Walk was started in 1946 to relieve hunger in Europe. CWS funds local religious communities’ humanitarian projects. Most of the Gulf churches that’ve opened their doors are CROP Walk supporters.

Rockford hosts a CROP Walk Sunday, Oct. 16, and I hope you can support a walker—25 percent of the money will stay in Rockford. Of course, that’s me mouthing liberal platitudes, trying to get you to throw money at the problem.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

From the Sept. 14-20, 2005, issue

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