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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

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!
Russell Mokhiber
Save the Patients, Cut Off the Dick!
Steven M. Druker
The Deceptions of the GE Food Venture
Elliot Sperber
Clean, Green, Class War: Bill McKibben’s Shortsighted ‘War on Climate Change’
Binoy Kampmark
Claims of Exoneration: The Case of Slobodan Milošević
Walter Brasch
The Contradictions of Donald Trump
Michael Donnelly
Body Shaming Trump: Statue of Limitations
Weekend Edition
August 19, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Hillary and the War Party
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Prime Time Green
Andrew Levine
Hillary Goes With the Flow
Dave Lindorff
New York Times Shames Itself by Attacking Wikileaks’ Assange
Gary Leupp
Could a Russian-Led Coalition Defeat Hillary’s War Plans?
Conn Hallinan
Dangerous Seas: China and the USA
Joshua Frank
Richard Holbrooke and the Obama Doctrine
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail