Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Wisdom from the back of an envelope

Abraham Lincoln, 1863:
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Whether it's National, State, County, or City, government "for the people" has failed the people of New Orleans. That's not to say that there aren't a lot of people trying really hard to help -- there are, and they should be given medals. But the failure is only partly in the response to the event.

9/11 was cited as a "failure of imagination". Here's an example that didn't even require much imagination on the part of the government -- USA Today in 2000, Scientific American in 2001, The Times-Picayune and PBS' NOW in 2002, CBS News in 2003, National Geographic in 2004, etc., all have had articles in the past five years about how bad this could be. Few of them were far off the mark.

I don't know what will change about the United States of America as a result of Katrina, but I hope people will think long and hard about our government's priorities. And I mean that in a non-partisan way. This is not a blue vs red issue. It's a short-vs-long term thinking issue, and there's short-sightedness in epidemic proportions across the political spectrum.

1 comment:

BWV said...

right there w/ you on the lame response, especially after the 9/11 lesson. very sad.