Issues at stake

The Katrina Catastrophe brings to the surface several governance issues that define the heart and soul of a United States of America.

Federalism and the autonomy of States were major barriers in forming enough of a federal government in the founding days to almost cause the revolution for independance to founder. The same issue was the primary factor in the civil war that Southerners still call ‘the war between the states.’ B. Hume (Fox News) hit this one when he suggested that the President’s biggest fault in the Katrina disaster might have been that he was too deferential to the State Governors.

Individual responsibilities were the topic of a [Washington Times] editorial:

In assessing the events on our Gulf Coast over the past fortnight it is necessary to note that thousands of Americans in News Orleans showed almost no sense of self-reliance and personal responsibility. Some, of course, were sick, infirm or otherwise helpless. But many were not. This malfeasance of citizenship is as damaging as the failures of government officials, and rectification is just as crucial.

How did so many Americans come to such a degraded condition? And what is to be done about it? This is not a matter of race, or class, or innate intelligence. It is largely the product of a mental state of dependency induced by deliberate government policy.

The autonomy of the states and its accompanying responsibilities and the civic responsibilities of individual citizens are being tested by gross examples of malfeasance. The people of the country are being faced with how much they should sacrifice to ameliorate the outcomes of this malfeasance. It is bad enough to pay in terms of blood and money but there is another price. It is in the encroachment of this mental state of dependency and the loss of individual freedoms because the larger society does not want to deal with the result of those who do not properly and responsibly exercise those freedoms.

The issue is not simple. We are now faced with the result of malfeasance mixed into anonimity with the catastrophe of natural disaster as a set of immediate needs. The result of the loss of individual freedoms and state autonomy is much less visible and its costs in pain and suffering amortized over many years. We do have the demise of the Soviet Union to see the counter example to the problems highlighted by Katrina. Will it be seen and be used to learn?

The shrill rhetoric accusing and maligning selected officials before the dust even settled says no. This is why the vague and general lambasting from many on the left including Reid and Pelosi is so dangerous. Calmer heads must prevail or we will all pay the price. It is a responsibility of each of us to find and fix and to shame those who are irresponsible – whether in deed leading to direct tragedy or in careless and thoughtless destructive word.

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