No rain today. Not much sun right now, either, but no rain. Some days it's the little things.
So, when exactly is enough, enough? I listened to a report this morning that the opposition party leader in Pakistan says the response from the US of A for relief to Pakistan after the earthquake is "peanuts" in size. Our initial response is $50 Million in aid. Hmm. Not to mention the choppers that have been deployed to drop water, food and supplies to areas hard to reach. Really makes you want to give more, doesn't it? This is probably a person who was dancing and rejoicing when the twin towers fell, too. Turns my stomach.
I was watching a SBA hearing with a House of Representatives panel yesterday. The people giving testimony were from the Gulf area. Ralph Brennan from New Orleans (Brennan restaurant empire) and others much smaller. A travel agent from Gulfport, a video photographer from Covington, a banker from Jefferson Parish. All asking for their share of the pie. Understandable. However something the video photographer said made me stop and think some things through. He said at the time of the hurricane, his small business, run by himself and his wife, was making payments on an existing SBA loan. It was his second loan from the agency. He was asking that SBA forgive the debt of the existing loan and pass out grants for the businesses in the area. He was a little taken aback that the committee didn't all jump up and lead the amen chorus on this idea. So, forgive the current debt AND give me more free money to go back to how everything was before. Is this equitable? I think it is greedy and short sighted. Life will not be the same in the city and other options have to be explored. Until the city is up and running again, his customer base is gone and that is just a fact. He will have to move elsewhere or get a job of another kind as it becomes available in the area. Tough decisions, I know, but the everyone owes me culture has to stop.
Billions and billions of taxpayer dollars are going to be thrown at the rebuilding of the Gulf coast. Yes, it must be done. But this time I am demanding it be done the right way. Accountability of expenditures and responsible city and community planning. The local and state government in Louisiana is corrupt and bankrupt of innovative ideas. The mayor of New Orleans wants casino gambling to save downtown New Orleans. What a disgrace to an old and historical city. The governor of the state wants the rebuilding jobs and contracts to be local. Impossible. Sure, some of it will be local but initially the big companies will have to be used as they have the manpower and skill needed. Funny, for all the harping about Halliburton, I didn't hear complaints about Halliburton when they were the company used by the Corp of Engineers to resecure the levees. The people with the red shirts and big H on the back of them? Halliburton.
What about the coast of Mississippi? Whole towns and communities have been completely wiped out and I don't see the politicians cursing and crying on tv with hands out. I see them getting down to business as best as they can. All levels are working together to bring back the lives of their people. Mississippi, the poorest state in the nation with the least educated population just assumes that the bulk of recovery is on their shoulders and are grateful for help that comes. No Bush hates black people there. It's an attitude of self-determination that will bring back the coast. Do what needs to be done in the process for help and just get it done on local levels.
Some small communities have had slow response with aid after Hurricane Rita roared through east Texas. Big trucks from WalMart and other companies reached them before FEMA could. Not much yelling and finger pointing there. The time for input about the response systems will come later. Deal with what is on the ground now.
FEMA will have to be a stand alone agency again. Before the Department of Homeland Security was established, demanded by the democrats in Congress, President Bush resisted the creation of the agency. He said it was another level of beaurocracy. He was slammed for that opinion and relented. The demand was to put FEMA in the department. He agreed to that, too. Have you ever felt safer because of a dept of homeland security? I haven't. Just more pencil pushers without a clue on local levels. The state of Louisiana already has people indicted on misuse (read theft) of over $40 million from their state agency. FEMA is a federal MANAGEMENT agency. Not a first responder. Local response, state response, then federal response. Not difficult to understand. Unless, of course, you still think it is the federal government's responsibility to take care of you instead of taking care of yourself.