FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Compassion for Corporations

by CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI

Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism.

Hubert Humphrey

Again we have been treated to the workings of a truly compassionate administration. In one case it took two tries, in the other it was doing what comes naturally and got it right the first time. FEMA is the teacher.

In the first case its first try came slightly more than one week before the day when all Americans join together to give thanks for the many good things that have happened to them during the year. A number of former residents of New Orleans had planned to give thanks for George W. Bush. It was he who, standing in the Rose Garden on September 3 after Katrina struck New Orleans said: “I know that those of you who have been hit hard by Katrina are suffering. Many are angry and desperate for help. The tasks before us are enormous, but so is the heart of America. In America, we do not abandon our fellow citizens in their hour of need. And the federal government will do its part . . .. We have a responsibility to our brothers and sisters all along the Gulf Coast and we will not rest until we get this right and the job is done.” Who wouldn’t be thankful for such promises? But then, sad to say, something happened that changed the victims’ plans to give thanks.

FEMA slipped notices under the doors of Katrina victims who were staying in hotels at FEMA’s expense. The notices were notices of eviction. The 50,000 families staying in hotels around the United States were told to get out by December 1 except for those in Mississippi and Louisiana who were given until January 7, 2006.

FEMA said it was acting out of a sense of compassion. Its spokesperson, Nicol Andrews explained: “We want to help people to get back on their feet to become self-sustaining and to have some control over their destiny. It is just inhumane to leave a family stuck in a hotel room and not offer them an option that exists to move beyond that.” Don Jacks, another spokesman for FEMA said: “We’re not forcing anyone out of hotels. Yes we will stop paying for hotel rooms the night of Nov. 30 and on Dec. 1 these people will need to be ready to move.”

Commenting on the original FEMA news, Texas Governor Rick Perry said: “[M]y great concern is that there is still no long-term housing plan for the hundreds of thousands of Katrina victims who lost everything and . . . many of them may find themselves with no long-term housing options.”

Commentators and the homeless quietly pointed out that this action, though undeniably helpful for enabling the victims to be more self-sufficient, seemed a bit harsh.

Sensitive to the charge, FEMA gave them a reprieve. It said they did not have to leave until the week before Christmas and, in addition, in some communities they may stay until January 7. Its chair also said the agency would continue to pay for alternative housing for those being evicted, something he forgot to mention when he initially said everyone had to leave. That was probably just an oversight.

There has been no such oversight with respect to Northrop Grumman.

According to the New York Times, the U.S. Navy has asked FEMA to give it $2 billion to restore Northrop’s Gulfport facilities to their pre-Katrina “capacity and profit opportunities.” According to the Times that would “shift the full burden of hurricane-related cost overruns and ship-building delays from Northrop to the government.” That amount is in addition to the $500 million Northrop has already gotten from its insurers and the additional $500 billion it believes its insurers owe it. According to one watchdog group, the $2 billion is almost as much as the government plans to spend on repairing housing. The reason those funds are available for FEMA to give to Northrop instead of to non-corporate victims of Katrina goes back to October 28.

On that date Mr. Bush asked that $17.1 billion of FEMA funds be reallocated. He said he wanted the pentagon to get $6.6 billion (a sum that includes the Northrop money). The rest is to go to the National Guard reservists and repairs to military installations damaged by Katrina. He didn’t leave out the human victims. He said
$2.2 billion should be used for housing recovery.

It’s great news that many of the victims won’t have to move out 6 days after Thanksgiving but can postpone the move until 9 days before Christmas. That shows how compassionate FEMA can be. It’s also good that Northrop will get federal help to restore it to its pre-Katrina profitability. That, too, shows how compassionate FEMA can be.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be reached at: Brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu or through his website: http://hraos.com/

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

August 25, 2016
Mike Whitney
The Broken Chessboard: Brzezinski Gives Up on Empire
Paul Cox – Stan Cox
The Louisiana Catastrophe Proves the Need for Universal, Single-Payer Disaster Insurance
John W. Whitehead
Another Brick in the Wall: Children of the American Police State
Lewis Evans
Genocide in Plain Sight: Shooting Bushmen From Helicopters in Botswana
Daniel Kovalik
Colombia: Peace in the Shadow of the Death Squads
Sam Husseini
How the Washington Post Sells the Politics of Fear
Ramzy Baroud
Punishing the Messenger: Israel’s War on NGOs Takes a Worrying Turn
Norman Pollack
Troglodyte Vs. Goebbelean Fascism: The 2016 Presidential Race
Simon Wood
Where are the Child Victims of the West?
Roseangela Hartford
The Hidden Homeless Population
Mark Weisbrot
Obama’s Campaign for TPP Could Drag Down the Democrats
Rick Sterling
Clintonites Prepare for War on Syria
Yves Engler
The Anti-Semitism Smear Against Canadian Greens
August 24, 2016
John Pilger
Provoking Nuclear War by Media
Jonathan Cook
The Birth of Agro-Resistance in Palestine
Eric Draitser
Ajamu Baraka, “Uncle Tom,” and the Pathology of White Liberal Racism
Jack Rasmus
Greek Debt and the New Financial Imperialism
Robert Fisk
The Sultan’s Hit List Grows, as Turkey Prepares to Enter Syria
Abubakar N. Kasim
What Did the Olympics Really Do for Humanity?
Renee Parsons
Obamacare Supporters Oppose ColoradoCare
Alycee Lane
The Trump Campaign: a White Revolt Against ‘Neoliberal Multiculturalism’
Edward Hunt
Maintaining U.S. Dominance in the Pacific
George Wuerthner
The Big Fish Kill on the Yellowstone
Jesse Jackson
Democrats Shouldn’t Get a Blank Check From Black Voters
Kent Paterson
Saving Southern New Mexico from the Next Big Flood
Arnold August
RIP Jean-Guy Allard: A Model for Progressive Journalists Working in the Capitalist System
August 23, 2016
Diana Johnstone
Hillary and the Glass Ceilings Illusion
Bill Quigley
Race and Class Gap Widening: Katrina Pain Index 2016 by the Numbers
Ted Rall
Trump vs. Clinton: It’s All About the Debates
Eoin Higgins
Will Progressive Democrats Ever Support a Third Party Candidate?
Kenneth J. Saltman
Wall Street’s Latest Public Sector Rip-Off: Five Myths About Pay for Success
Binoy Kampmark
Labouring Hours: Sweden’s Six-Hour Working Day
John Feffer
The Globalization of Trump
Gwendolyn Mink – Felicia Kornbluh
Time to End “Welfare as We Know It”
Medea Benjamin
Congress Must Take Action to Block Weapon Sales to Saudi Arabia
Halyna Mokrushyna
Political Writer, Daughter of Ukrainian Dissident, Detained and Charged in Ukraine
Manuel E. Yepe
Tourism and Religion Go Hand-in-Hand in the Caribbean
ED ADELMAN
Belted by Trump
Thomas Knapp
War: The Islamic State and Western Politicians Against the Rest of Us
Nauman Sadiq
Shifting Alliances: Turkey, Russia and the Kurds
Rivera Sun
Active Peace: Restoring Relationships While Making Change
August 22, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton: The Anti-Woman ‘Feminist’
Robert Hunziker
Arctic Death Rattle
Norman Solomon
Clinton’s Transition Team: a Corporate Presidency Foretold
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Hubris: Only Tell the Rich for $5000 a Minute!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail