Friday, September 02, 2005

Responsibility and Consequences

Hunter CutterI have ignored "mandatory evacuation" orders from the government in the past, as have many boaters in Florida. I have always had plans to evacuate should the circumstances dictate. These are detailed plans that include roads not likely to flood in tropical-storm-force rains, and an understanding of which bridges will be closed and when they will be closed. Each time I ignored an order to evacuate I made that decision knowing that if I got caught, I would be on my own, or at best those few of us staying at the marina would be the only people I could call on for help. My failure to evacuate meant I forfeited the option of having the government come to the rescue. The decision to stay was mine; I would be forced to live with the outcome of that decision.

The people in New Orleans want to have their cake and eat it too. They ignored clear instructions to leave. They ignored a Category 5 storm (it was downgraded just hours before hitting the coast) that was headed directly at them. Now that they are suffering the consequences of having stayed, it is everyone’s fault but their own. And they are complaining about the consequences of their decision to stay.

Sure, the old and the infirm may not have been able to evacuate on their own. But what percentage of people currently suffering in NOLA are in that category? And if everyone else had taken some responsibility for their own safety, the resources available to the city of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana would have been more equal to the task of evacuation. And when I am old and infirm, I will still take some responsibilty for my own safety, even if that means living a little further inland, and getting help - as much as possible - before the disaster strikes.

If people are going to rely on the state for rescue, they then need to obey the orders of that state when told what to do. You can't both have responsibility (not following the orders on your own judgment) and not have responsibility (for facing the consequences of your actions and decisions).

Generations of people have been told that they are not responsible. Not responsible for their own safety (let the police protect me), not responsible for their own support (the welfare society), not responsible for their own actions (it was all because of my childhood). If they truly believe this, then they should not exercise responsibility in any area of their lives. The state says "Go!" and you had better get gone. Whining about having to face the consequences of your actions is pointless, immature, and ridiculous.

This doesn't of course excuse the state of LA for the stupid job they have done. While some of the LA National Guard is in Iraq, at least 60% of that Guard is available. 5 days for mobilization is too long. They should have been in New Orleans Tuesday night, not Friday. And has FEMA finally and completely demonstrated that they are incapable of dealing with emergencies? They botched the Andrew relief, and they are doing the same with this. It's time their budget was given to someone who can help - not that I know who this would be.

Update: QC at Queer Conservative reflects on the fruits of the nanny state:
New Orleans is a prime example of what happens when an entire class of people become dependent on government for everything - even making life or death decisions. The more 'entitlements' people are given the more they want. The more people don't have to provide for themselves, the less capable they become of doing so.
I wish I had said it that well. [via GP]

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