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Katrina Shows Failure of Republican Philosophy on a Grand Scale

By Steven Leser  Posted by Rob Kall (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Anti-Federalism, the idea that to the maximum extent possible, the federal government should not be involved in the affairs of the people and that state and local governments should take on more of a role is a cornerstone of Republican philosophy. In following Anti-Federalism married with Supply-Side economics, Republican Presidents Reagan, George H. W. Bush and now George W. Bush have pursued agendas that reduced taxes, in turn, reducing the funding and capabilities of various parts and agencies within the Federal Government.

A few days ago, I wrote about how the disaster in New Orleans had been foreseen by all of the right people, including FEMA, it's just that FEMA wasn't given the funding needed to do anything substantive about it. What I didn't realize was that not only did FEMA not have the funding, but that FEMA has been subjected by this administration to no less than a complete undermining of its efforts. Lowered from its status by having its head stripped from cabinet level status and placed under the heading of Homeland Security, subjected to constant attacks on its funding since 2001, and its leadership handed to a clearly over his head college buddy of President Bush, FEMA has been an agency taken anything but seriously and marked for death by Bush and his neoconservative cronies. FEMA isn't alone, thanks to the Bush tax cut and war in Iraq, various federal programs and agencies are hurting like never before or subjected to outright cancellations. The negative effects of these policies just haven't been as obvious until now.

There is a reason that we need a federal government, funded by our tax dollars, to have the capability to not only react to these kinds of disasters effectively, but mitigate them before they occur. When we cashed those $100-$300 checks that this President and administration gave us, the loss of these and various other federal government capabilities was the price. There was a project put on the table in 2001, early in the current Bush administration that would have cost $14 Billion dollars that would have fixed for several lifetimes the problems with the levees and pumps protecting New Orleans. Of course, with FEMA and the Federal Government starved for funds, this project could not be undertaken. Incidentally, I used the word 'starved' intentionally. Republicans and proponents of Supply Side economics and Anti-Federalism have a policy they call "Starve the Beast", the beast in this case being the Federal Government. The policy involves intentionally cutting off the funding to various federal government programs until they die of their own accord, rather than having to go through the bruising and very public process of killing the programs off via specific and deliberate congressional action.

Another casualty of Katrina is Republican philosophy on race issues. Republicans like to say that the playing field is now level, ones efforts are all that matters and race is no longer an issue in hiring or anything else, than to suggest that it still is, is nothing more than bleeding heart Liberal politics. Therefore, if you follow this reasoning, affirmative action is no longer necessary. This idea too has died as a result of Katrina in a most interesting way. It only took two simple photographs and captions to show how deeply racism is still embedded into the sub consciousness of this nation, even that of our supposedly liberal press corps. Two photographs, both showing people who had, without permission, gone into a grocery store and removed food so that the people who in effect had stolen could survive had divergent captions. In the photo showing a person of color who had done this, the caption called them a 'looter', in the photo showing a white person who had done this, the caption read something along the lines that they had "'found' food from a grocery store". Is it any wonder that African Americans claim that racism still is a potent and negative force in their efforts to work for a piece of the American dream?

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The last important piece of the Republican philosophy that we can put to rest is the idea that Republicans have better values than Democrats or espouse some sort of better value of life. If that were true, the most important risks to loss of life would be addressed by Republican administrations and Republicans would be the strongest advocates of things like healthcare for all, rather than one of the ideas strongest opponents. As with the other parts of their philosophy that I have mentioned above, Republicans are great at 'talking the talk', they just don't 'walk the walk.'

When it comes down to it, Katrina has shown Republican philosophy to be a failure on almost every level, by virtually every expectation one has of government. If you think I have gone too far with that pronouncement, consider the preamble to our Constitution which describes the very reason one forms a government, or at least why we formed ours. "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." By its failure to plan for and mitigate the effects of this hurricane, Republicans have clearly shown themselves and their philosophies lacking.

Steven Leser sleser001@yahoo.com is a freelance journalist specializing in Politics, Science & Health, and Entertainment topics. He has held positions within the Democratic Party including District Chair and Public Relations Chair within county organizations. His coverage of the Ohio Presidential Recount in 2004 was distinguished by actual interviews with Carlo Loparo, spokesperson for the Ohio Secretary of State, along with Supervisors of Elections of several Ohio counties. Similar efforts on other topics to get first hand information from sources seperate Mr. Leser from many of his contemporaries.
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