A world without hope [Archives:2005/875/Opinion]

September 8 2005

With the devastation of Hurricane Katrina still not fully accounted for both in human and material costs, it is nonetheless quite clear that the Administration of George W. Bush is not at all geared for insuring the safety and well being of a sizable element in the US population. It is not for sure if the awesome casualties and losses of the powerful storm may partially be attributed to some degree of negligence on the part of the Federal Government. If policy can be given some legal context and subject to jurisdictional accounting, then surely the absolute laissez-faire capitalism pursued by the neo-con establishment would have been brought to the bench for irresponsibility and neglect of those accorded little access to the resources of this mighty and powerfully rich nation. In a society that is now run by purely classical capitalist orientation that presumes economies work best when government steers off the dynamics of economic activity, the downtrodden and the unfortunate have little weight in determining government policy. Furthermore, even important social functions of government tend to be rejected and eventually diminished. If that was not enough, government would also seek to ensure that the already prosperous and wealthy continue their quest for greater net worth and greater accumulation by according this usually small but important segment of the population the tax breaks and incentives. With the Government deprived of an important revenue base as such, to meet its fiscal needs, it resorts to cutting away the services and social programs that another much more sizable segment of the population would need to alleviate their misfortune and provide them with access to some of the bountiful resources of the country. Furthermore, government continues to opt for maintaining its awesome size and machinery, but redirects the orientations under which it operates in service to the wealthy – its functions become no more than a privilege for the rich to enhance their affluence and their domination of all economic activities.

The major point to be made in all of this introduction is that Katrina is a perfect example of the failure of absolute capitalism as a sound national policy. The impact of the storm was primarily shouldered by a sizable community that has been marginalized historically, and subjected to even more greater (some would also intentional) neglect by this new rendition of government at play in Washington. It would not be far fetched to attribute this tragic outcome to the uncompromisingly favorable policies that government has adopted solely for the benefit of those who have bankrolled the steady encroaches and eventual prevalence of the proponents of such policies in government. For close to a century in the United States much progress was made in allowing for considerable share of government activity to overcome some of the social inequities that were produced by the rapid success of the free enterprise system in making the United States the formidable economic giant it has been now for most of the last century. Although the wealth was not per se evenly distributed among all the members of the American society, avenues became accessible for most Americans to enjoy the amenities of life and to live rather comfortable lives. However, the small segment with the hold on most of the capital adamantly pursued to counter such importance progress in the social fabric of the Nation and encouraged the rise of the neo-con establishment to power. With the collapse of the Communist bloc (and thus the elimination of the possibility of a Communist threat to the social regime in the US), the absolute capitalists saw no further need of promoting social equilibrium as a national policy. Once in power, the neo cons not only blocked any new social programs that were proposed but worked themselves slowly out of many of the already existing programs that have made it ever more difficult for the lesser fortunate in America to find their fair share of the vast wealth of the country. Even such programs or projects that were essential to protecting human beings from the consequences of such terrible storms as Katrina had no place in the agenda of the neo cons, especially in those areas that were predominantly inhabited by people who had no control over capital and thus no influence with the neo-con establishment now in power.

If America is to continue its leading role as a responsible superpower in this world, it would have to show itself as a model of a nation of effective social cohesion and not merely a new bastion for a greedy element that sees no limits to the amount of wealth and power it can hold. America's poor and marginalized segments, whose numbers are increasing ever more rapidly since the Bush Administration took over, are already the first victims of such narrow minded and intentionally marginalizing cut-throat policies. Katrina has shown this very plainly, in terms of the preventive actions that could have been taken, at relatively little cost (and actually already planned for), but were not, the many social programs that were reduced or diminished that worsened the lots of the poor and made them economically and physically defenseless to meet the consequences of such a catastrophe and the slow and almost contemptuous way in which the government acted to help the direct victims of the storm escape danger, find relief and adequate shelter and even find access to information as to what to do and where to go. A friend of this observer suggested that the storm might have fitted into the neo-con capitalist establishment, as it “opened up” new vacated areas to occupy. In addition, the destruction affords new opportunities for private capital to invest in the newly vacated areas, not to mention the vast contracts that will be required to reestablish the infrastructure destroyed by the storm, which is probably why the government was inclined to let “things work out” by themselves. More obvious however, as foreign policy has already shown of this Administration, the human cost is not a significant factor in drawing up its agenda and pursuing the interests of the relatively few, who matter in their political arithmetic. As such, how can the vast multitude of the poor and marginalized of the world find any hope in American leadership of the world? If America's poor and marginalized have to live without hope, then what would the discontent and poor majority of the population of the world expect when the neo-con agenda, becomes internationalized? Katrina has warned that the prospects are not at all reassuring.