Thursday, October 06, 2005
"Rerum Novarum," by Leo XIII, Holy See, 15 May 1891, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/leo_xiii/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_15051891_rerum-novarum_en.html (from tdaxp).
"Aenema," by Tool, Aenima, 1 October 1996, http://toolshed.down.net/lyrics/aenimamaster.html (buy the cd)..
".... AS LONG AS WE RAISE TAXES ON THE RICH," by Neal Boortz, boortz.com, 19 September 2005, http://boortz.com/nuze/200509/09192005.html (from a personal message).
I don't blame anyone for trying to protect property. But I do blame people for expecting society to magically solve their problems. A substantial and worrying faction of Americans want a paternal government to take care of them. They want to avoid responsibility and reality.
During the past week I read story after story about how so many of New Orleans' middle and upper income residents were able to flee the city as Katrina approached, but the poor were left to fend for themselves. The difference here wasn't money. The difference here was attitude. It was the self-sufficient vs. the dependent. The evil rich and middle-income residents fled New Orleans because they are used to accepting the responsibility for their own welfare and safety. The poor stayed behind because they're mired in the sludge of generation after generation of dependency on government. The accomplished class knows that they bear the responsibility for meeting their own needs and providing for their safety. The poor by-and-large bear no such responsibility. To them, it's the government's job. Instead of taking responsibility for their own safety --- they just sat there, waiting for government to come and save them. The achievement-oriented residents of New Orleans were spared the horrors of the violence and filth that followed the flooding because they kept doing what they had been doing all along -- accepting responsibility. The poor were subjected to the violence and filth because they also kept doing what they had been doing all along -- depending on government.
Hurricane Katrina illustrated the truth behind the contention that poverty is a behavioral disorder.
Theologically, one can defend this attitue by citing Pope Leo XIII's "Rerum Novarum"
There is another and deeper consideration which must not be lost sight of. As regards the State, the interests of all, whether high or low, are equal. The members of the working classes are citizens by nature and by the same right as the rich; they are real parts, living the life which makes up, through the family, the body of the commonwealth; and it need hardly be said that they are in every city very largely in the majority. It would be irrational to neglect one portion of the citizens and favor another, and therefore the public administration must duly and solicitously provide for the welfare and the comfort of the working classes; otherwise, that law of justice will be violated which ordains that each man shall have his due. To cite the wise words of St. Thomas Aquinas: "As the part and the whole are in a certain sense identical, so that which belongs to the whole in a sense belongs to the part."(27) Among the many and grave duties of rulers who would do their best for the people, the first and chief is to act with strict justice - with that justice which is called distributive - toward each and every class alike.
If a workman's wages be sufficient to enable him comfortably to support himself, his wife, and his children, he will find it easy, if he be a sensible man, to practice thrift, and he will not fail, by cutting down expenses, to put by some little savings and thus secure a modest source of income. Nature itself would urge him to this. We have seen that this great labor question cannot be solved save by assuming as a principle that private ownership must be held sacred and inviolable. The law, therefore, should favor ownership, and its policy should be to induce as many as possible of the people to become owners.
The State should treat all equally, just as all have an right and obligation to live a frugal and comfortable life. When anti-social
Put less eloquently by Tool
Some say the end is near.
Some say we'll see armageddon soon.
I certainly hope we will cuz
I sure could use a vacation from this
Silly shit, stupid shit...
One great big festering neon distraction,
I've a suggestion to keep you all occupied.
Learn to swim.
Monday, September 19, 2005
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Regular tdaxp readers will remember that I missed the hurricane. The news channels are very now-centric, so it has been hard to figure out what happened, why Bush is being blamed, etc. Fortunately, a friend sent me a link to the Katrina Timeline
Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation. The President’s call came just prior to the news conference and occurred after the decision had already been made. for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding. Revised 9/6 (HT: Jay) Lexis-Nexis Subscription needed to access link.
“There doesn’t seem to be any relief in sight,” Blanco said.
Friday, September 02, 2005
"The Doomed Cities," by Michael Leeden, National Review Online, 1 September 2005, http://www.aei.org/publications/pubID.23118/pub_detail.asp (from private email).
As we mourn New Orleans, let us also celebrate it, as New Orleanians famously celebrate their own dead. The city has long been admired for its literary creativity, its exceptional food, and its wonderful music, and deplored--albeit also frequented--because of its legendary corruption and degradation. The possibility of its destruction no doubt played a role in the character of its people, and it is no accident that an annual bacchanal took place there, in the riotous celebrations of Mardi Gras. Death has always been omnipresent in the consciousness of the city; dancing in defiance of death was the city's trademark, and the spirited music that defined New Orleans for much of the world was played at the happiest occasions, and at the most famous funerals.
New Orleans is one of a handful of cities that are defined in large part by the recognition that it can all come to an end most any day. Joel Lockhart Dyer wrote that "New Orleans is North America's Venice; both cities are living on borrowed time." New Orleans and Venice are both subject to the vagaries of the water gods, and both have acted sporadically to fend off their seemingly inevitable fate. But their basic response to the looming disaster has been defiance, a ritual assertion of life in the face of the inevitable, and an embrace of human frailty that echoes the frailty of the city itself.
Carnival in Venice, albeit more so in the past than today, has much in common with Mardi Gras, including the use of masks by the celebrants, who thereby throw off their daily identities to participate anonymously in the licentious celebrations. Thomas Mann knew what he was doing when he wrote Death in Venice, in which a proper German professor (pointedly named Aschenbach, the stream of ashes) hurls himself into bawdy Venice to recover his repressed sexuality and creativity. Similar characters abound in the works of Tennessee Williams, who lived many years in New Orleans, the setting for both A Streetcar Named Desire and The Rose Tattoo. William Faulkner also found New Orleans a congenial place for his creative labors. And in both cities, the bacchanals are religious, celebrating both sin and the hope of redemption thereafter, as if a sinner were more attractive to the Almighty than a virtuous soul, at least on that day.
Moreover, Venice prefigured the most likely cultural and political destiny of New Orleans, no matter whether the long-anticipated catastrophe came or not: a slow slide into monotonous ritual, a city transformed into an historic theme park, more frequented by tourists than defined by the energy of its inhabitants, an anachronistic curiosity like Florence, where one focuses on things past, not present or future.
But there is much that separates them. Venice is a northern city, and New Orleans is profoundly southern. A German like Mann might find Venice to be incredibly warm and sunny, but no knowledgeable Italian would. And the presumed naturalness and spontaneity of Venetians could only be taken seriously by someone from even farther north. New Orleans, on the other hand, incarnates the south. New Orleanians are perversely proud of the slow tempo of their daily life, of the absence of industry, and of the fascinating spectacle of human foibles and failures that seems at one with the city. The Italian city that most closely matches New Orleans is Naples, not Venice. Naples also faces destruction--volcanic destruction, from "Vesuvius the Exterminator," as the poet Verga once wrote--and Naples, too, is noted for a lively, and often lawless style of life, along with great literature, art, cuisine and music. Unlike Venice, Naples is every bit as southern as New Orleans, and the European stereotype of the Neapolitan is very much like the American image of New Orleanians: lazy, happy, spontaneous, and unrepressed, slow-moving but quick-witted, and very happy with the food.
Naples and New Orleans also share a common affliction: disease. An enormous number of New Orleanians and Neapolitans have died of cholera; indeed, one of the best books on modern Naples is entitled Naples in the Age of Cholera. New Orleans had the additional scourge of Yellow Fever. In both cities, the effect of these epidemics and mass deaths meant, as Frederick Starr puts it in his excellent book on New Orleans, "death...was not merely a private drama occurring in the intimate circle of one's family, but a civic event, experienced by the entire community." Both cities have a highly developed culture of death. The dead are believed to be actively involved in daily life, busily haunting houses and even restaurants, sending dream messages to the living, and organizing good and bad fortune for those who have or lack proper respect for the inhabitants of the spiritual realm.
The dead themselves require special treatment, because both cities lack proper traditional burial grounds. New Orleans is below sea level, and the soil in Naples is very porous, so the dead are usually placed in tombs, not in the ground. In some Neapolitan churches, you can see skeletons in the walls, and local artists paint clothing around the skeletons. This sort of intimacy with the dead is unknown in most of the modern world.
The combination of a rich culture of death with the looming threat of catastrophe is an intoxicating mélange for the spirit, and it no doubt explains why so many great writers have been drawn to these two southern cities, both of which have developed a unique version of Catholicism, often to the consternation of Rome. As Starr observes of New Orleans (and it is equally true of Naples), "all this frivolity occurs in the very city which, for over two centuries, Death visited more ruthlessly than anywhere else on the continent."
Doomed cities with an intimate relationship with the dead are special places, incubators of exceptional qualities of spirit and thus of extraordinary inventiveness. If we have lost one of those cities to the forces of nature, it will impoverish our world far beyond the enormous human tragedy. Even if it was long foreseen.
"Trapped in an Arena of Suffering," by Scott Gold, Los Angeles Times, 1 September 2005, http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-superdome1sep01,0,4489032.story?coll=la-home-headlines (from Drudge Report).
At least two people, including a child, have been raped. At least three people have died, including one man who jumped 50 feet to his death, saying he had nothing left to live for.
The hurricane left most of southern Louisiana without power, and the arena, which is in the central business district of New Orleans, was not spared. The air conditioning failed immediately and a swampy heat filled the dome.
An emergency generator kept some lights on, but quickly failed. Engineers have worked feverishly to keep a backup generator running, at one point swimming under the floodwater to knock a hole in the wall to install a new diesel fuel line. But the backup generator is now faltering and almost entirely submerged.
There is no sanitation. The stench is overwhelming. The city's water supply, which had held up since Sunday, gave out early Wednesday, and toilets in the Superdome became inoperable and began to overflow.
"There is feces on the walls," said Bryan Hebert, 43, who arrived at the Superdome on Monday. "There is feces all over the place."