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

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Diana Johnstone
The Main Issue in the French Presidential Election: National Sovereignty
Paul Street
Donald Trump: Ruling Class President
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Dude, Where’s My War?
Andrew Levine
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Paul Atwood
Why Does North Korea Want Nukes?
Robert Hunziker
Trump and Global Warming Destroy Rivers
Vijay Prashad
Turkey, After the Referendum
Binoy Kampmark
Trump, the DOJ and Julian Assange
CJ Hopkins
The President Formerly Known as Hitler
Steve Reyna
Replacing Lady Liberty: Trump and the American Way
Lucy Steigerwald
Stop Suggesting Mandatory National Service as a Fix for America’s Problems
Robert Fisk
It is Not Just Assad Who is “Responsible” for the Rise of ISIS
John Laforge
“Strike Two” Against Canadian Radioactive Waste Dumpsite Proposal
Norman Solomon
The Democratic Party’s Anti-Bernie Elites Have a Huge Stake in Blaming Russia
Andrew Stewart
Can We Finally Get Over Bernie Sanders?
Susan Babbitt
Don’t Raise Liberalism From the Dead (If It is Dead, Which It’s Not)
Uri Avnery
Palestine’s Nelson Mandela
Fred Nagel
It’s “Deep State” Time Again
John Feffer
The Hunger President
Stephen Cooper
Nothing is Fair About Alabama’s “Fair Justice Act”
Jack Swallow
Why Science Should Be Political
Chuck Collins
Congrats, Graduates! Here’s Your Diploma and Debt
Aidan O'Brien
While God Blesses America, Prometheus Protects Syria, Russia and North Korea 
Patrick Hiller
Get Real About Preventing War
David Rosen
Fiction, Fake News and Trump’s Sexual Politics
Evan Jones
Macron of France: Chauncey Gardiner for President!
David Macaray
Adventures in Labor Contract Language
Ron Jacobs
The Music Never Stopped
Kim Scipes
Black Subjugation in America
Sean Stinson
MOAB: More Obama and Bush
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Minute Musings: On Why the United States Should Launch a Tomahawk Strike on Puerto Rico
Tom Clifford
The Return of “Mein Kampf” … in Japan
Todd Larsen
Concerned About Climate Change? Change Where You Bank!
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Brexit: Britain’s Opening to China?
John Hutchison
Everything Old is New Again: a Brief Retrospectus on Korea and the Cold War
Michael Brenner
The Ghost in the Dream Machine
Yves Engler
The Military Occupation of Haiti
Christopher Brauchli
Guardians of Lies
James Preece
How Labour Can Win the Snap Elections
Cesar Chelala
Preventing Disabilities in the Elderly
Sam Gordon
From We Shall Overcome to Where Have all the Flowers Gone?
Charles Thomson
It’s Still Not Too Late to Deserve Your CBE, Chris Ofili
Louis Proyect
Documentaries That Punch
Charles R. Larson
Review: Vivek Shanbhag’s “Ghachar Ghochar”
David Yearsley
Raiding the Tomb of Lubitsch
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail