FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Five Bailout Lessons From Katrina

by BILL QUIGLEY

The U.S. has committed nearly three trillion dollars to the financial bailout so far.  The Federal Reserve has made more than $2 trillion in emergency loans and another $700 million has been pledged through Congressional action.  Much more money is coming.

Things better for your community?  I didn’t think so.

Welcome to Katrina world.  Despite pledges of a hundred billion dollars we are still in deep pain along the Gulf Coast.  What happened?

Unless citizens are vigilant and demanding, the entire U.S. will be subjected to the same forces that swept through the Gulf Coast after Katrina – spending huge amounts of money and leaving a second disaster behind.

Despite promises of buckets of bucks, New Orleans still has sixty thousand abandoned homes.  Media reports say that 75% of the abandoned buildings have homeless people sleeping in them.  Public healthcare and public education and public housing are all less available and being thoroughly privatized.  Crime is sky high though we still have 100 National Guard members patrolling our streets.

So what lessons can be learned from Katrina world that apply to the financial bailout?

First, demand transparency.  Insist on knowing how much money is being spent, by whom it is being spent, who is receiving it and for what reasons.  Bloomberg News sued the Federal Reserve in November to find out who money from the more than $2 trillion dollars in emergency loans they have given out.  The government refuses to release that basic information.  Such an outrage cannot be permitted.

Second, keep a constant watch out for predators.  Many interests feast on the suffering of others.  When disaster hits, some see opportunity for their own private interests.  What Naomi Klein calls disaster capitalism kicks in and the big bucks start flowing out and away from real needs.  Those who are not already picking the bones are circling.  It is up to us to force them away.

Third, people have to participate in the decisions.  During and after a disaster there is a vacuum of leadership and those with the most resources usually rush in, declare an emergency, and then go on to make decisions about what has to be done.  Not surprisingly, these folks are focused on taking care of their own interests first, and often second and third.  We cannot let emergencies be the excuse to avoid democratic decision-making.

Fourth, the human rights of the least powerful must be made a conscious priority.  This is the exact opposite of what happens.  The human right to housing, land, livelihood, and freedom from discrimination must guide the response to the emergency.  Liberation theology calls this the preferential option for the poor.  Year end bonuses continue while foreclosures increase?  The needs of the poor must take priority over the wants of the rich.

Fifth, insist on gender equity.  Experiences show a systematic violation of the rights of women in every phase of disasters. The presence and participation and value of the role of women have been seriously inadequate.  Women bear a disproportionate burden of the effects of poverty. The human rights of women must be immediately respected as their suffering and disrespect continues today.

If our citizens and organizations demand these five principles be respected and followed, there is a chance that the post-bailout environment will not end up like the post-Katrina landscape of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.  Because there is one iron rule in responding to disaster – once that money is gone, it is not coming back.

BILL QUIGLEY is a law professor and human rights lawyer at Loyola University New Orleans.  Bill has visited Haiti many times as a volunteer advocate with the Institute for Justice and Peace in Haiti.  www.ijdh.org  Vladmir Laguerre, a journalist in Port au Prince, helped with this article.  Bill can be reached at quigley77@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Bill Quigley teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans and can be reached at quigley77@gmail.com.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sandes Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
Stavros Mavroudeas
Blatant Hypocrisy: the Latest Late-Night Bailout of Greece
Arun Gupta
A War of All Against All
Dan Kovalik
NPR, Yemen & the Downplaying of U.S. War Crimes
Murray Dobbin
Are We Witnessing the Beginning of the End of Globalization?
Daniel Falcone
Urban Injustice: How Ghettos Happen, an Interview with David Hilfiker
Gloria Jimenez
In Honduras, USAID Honduras Was in Bed with Berta Cáceres’ Accused Killers
Kent Paterson
The Old Braceros Fight On
Randy Blazak
Thugs, Bullies, and Donald J. Trump: The Perils of Wounded Masculinity
Lawrence Reichard
The Seemingly Endless Indignities of Air Travel: Report from the Losing Side of Class Warfare
Peter Berllios
Bernie and Utopia
Stan Cox – Paul Cox
Indonesia’s Unnatural Mud Disaster Turns Ten
Linda Pentz Gunter
Obama in Hiroshima: Time to Say “Sorry” and “Ban the Bomb”
George Souvlis
How the West Came to Rule: an Interview with Alexander Anievas
Stratos Ramoglou
Why the Greek Economic Crisis Won’t be Ending Anytime Soon
David Price
The 2016 Tour of California: Notes on a Big Pharma Bike Race
Dmitry Mickiewicz
Barbarous Deforestation in Western Ukraine
Gilbert Mercier
Donald Trump: Caligula of the Lowest Common Denominator Empire?
Patrick Bond
Imperialism’s Junior Partners
Mark Hand
The Trouble with Fracking Fiction
Priti Gulati Cox
Broken Green: Two Years of Modi
Marc Levy
Sitrep: Hometown Unwelcomes Vietnam Vets
Robert Dodge
On President Obama’s Hiroshima Visit
Andrew Moss
Bridge to Wellbeing?
Ed Kemmick
New Book Full of Amazing Montana Women
Michael Dickinson
Bye Bye Legal High in Backwards Britain
Missy Comley Beattie
Wanted: Daddy or Mommy in Chief
Charles R. Larson
Russian Women, Then and Now
May 26, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts
The Looting Stage of Capitalism: Germany’s Assault on the IMF
Pepe Escobar
Hillary Clinton: A Major Gold-Digging Liability
Sam Pizzigati
America’s Cosmic Tax Gap
Ramzy Baroud
Time to End the ‘Hasbara’: Palestinian Media and the Search for a Common Story
José L. Flores
Wall Street’s New Man in Brazil: The Forces Behind Dilma Rousseff’s Impeachment
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail