Dog days of August… 29 August 2007Posted by marisacat in The Battle for New Orleans.
… hard to look back.
Seven. Government will help businesses first and second and third, and if there is anything left, maybe fourth.
Who is in charge of government before the disaster? Governments will look to privatize the public sector –housing, health, education, transportation, every system after a disaster. That was what they wanted before the disaster, so the disaster offers them an opportunity to move their plans into action.
Corporations see disasters as opportunities. They look for valuable land that poor people were living on before the disaster. They decide that there is a better economic use for that land. Then they will push the government to come up with some excuse to take the land for other uses.
You will quickly see that those with power and money before the disaster end up with more power and more money after the disaster. You will see that 98% of the money distributed in a disaster ends up enriching corporations. Our most colorful example is the blue tarps that the government put on the roofs of houses after Katrina. The main contractor, Shaw Group, got $175 a square to put on the tarps. The subcontracted the work out to another corporation for $75 a square. The second corporation subcontracted the work out to a third corporation for $30 a square. Who in turn subcontracted it out again to guys who did the work for $2 a square. Two dollars a square for the actual worker is less than 2 percent of what the government paid out –guess who got the money.
Wonder why the Gulf Coast is not fixed up yet? This is not an accident. It is not that the system isn’t working. It is working for the benefit of those who create and fund and manipulate it. Read Naomi Klein’s THE SHOCK DOCTRINE: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. It spells it out in detail.
If government works primarily for corporations before the disaster, after the disaster it will be a hyper corporate-friendly environment.
Well. A big fat bingo on that one!
Nine. A justice-based reconstruction will not be funded.
Money will flow. Charities, churches and governments will send money for charitable help. If your community is trying to create a more just community than the one destroyed by the disaster, there will not be funding for that. If you are trying to make the community fairer for and with the poor, the elderly, and those who lived in unjust circumstances before the disaster –get ready to raise your own funds for your organization.
Funding for charity will come, but funding for justice will not.
We must insist on some transparency and accountability from the non-profits and foundations and others who have raised and spent billions in the names of those in distress. They cannot be allowed to operate like multi-national corporations –they must open their books and involve people in their decision-making.
Solidarity not charity is one of the great demands to come out of Katrina from the Common Ground collective.
Another is “Nothing about us without us is for us” from Peoples Hurricane Relief.
After Katrina, it again became clear that decades of oil development has literally destroyed the natural protections around the gulf coast.
Yet the disaster actually enriched the oil companies who helped cause it, creating their biggest year of profit in some time.
Yet, do you hear the voices of those calling out for the oil corporations to be held accountable for what they have caused? Those voices are small and unfunded. But they, like so many others calling for justice, are out there and will one day be heard.