PortFolio Weekly

PortFolio Weekly
September 27, 2005

Free Speech: Letter to the Editor

I read your paper every week.  I enjoy the music reviews, theater comments, style and fashion news, etc. However your political views are liberal and degrading to our American armed forces. You are unsupportive of our leaders. I am not in love with many of them either, but we still need to work within the ground rules we have.

Jim Newsom's article on the New Orleans situation ("A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Fulfilled," Sept. 13) falls just short of blaming the United States Government of causing the hurricane.  I know Jim, but this is just short of complete Ted Kennedy stupidity.

According to the laws and rules of regulations of the state of Louisiana, the mayor, governor, and local leaders are the first line of defense for the state and the city.  What did the mayor do?  What did the Governor do?  They waited to late to evacuate everyone; they did not get proper transportation to get citizens out.  They have misappropriated funds; as a result, the levees were insufficient to hold  a category 4 or 5 storm.  There was food and water for the Superdome but the leadership did not want to give it out because they were scared the citizens would stay there.  So the Superdome was turned into a cesspool.

The citizens of New Orleans are over 50 percent black;  the government has helped them stay solvent with hand outs and government programs.  Instead of training them and taking the gravy train away, they have allowed them to continue getting hand outs and when they had to stand up for themselves they couldn't do it. No jobs, no cars to get out of town. They screamed where is the government?  The local government left them, period.

So, if you want to blame the federal government for being a little slow at the switch, let's pass the blame around to the local leadership and paint the whole picture and the whole truth.

Dr. Richard Barringer


Jim Newsom responds:

The fact that other levels of government performed poorly doesn’t excuse the feds. They are, after all, supposed to be the pros. Isn’t that why the Department of Homeland Security was created?

The primary point of my column, however, was not to join in the blame-game ---there’s plenty of blame to go around. The point of my article was that Republicans have been running for elected office for at least the last 25 years promising to dismantle government if elected. And they have delivered on those promises. They have not shrunk the size of government; in fact they have generally enlarged it, particularly in entitlements for the wealthy and welfare programs for big business. But they have succeeded in starving the beast and running up huge deficits, then using that starvation diet as an excuse to neglect the needs of the least among us, to allow the decay of our country's physical infrastructure (roads, bridges, dams, levees); to cut back on safeguards for our food and medicine supply, to ransack the environment and rollback pollution standards and to dumb down and de-fund public education. That is real terrorism, the kind that keeps people on edge, feeling unsafe, unprotected and fearful about the future. It has contributed mightily to the loss of that sense of shared purpose that has held us together as a national community since the Second World War.

The Bush administration, the congressional Republican leadership, the Heritage Foundation, Fox News and all of the contemporary "conservative" cadre have a stake in proving that government doesn’t work in order to prove Reagan’s hypothesis (and by extension, their own) that “government isn’t the solution to our problems, government is the problem.” They have no interest in improving government or in honestly holding it accountable.

As the New York Times put it succinctly in a recent editorial, “The president came to office with a deep antipathy toward big government that has turned out to be utterly inappropriate for the world he inherited. The result has not been less government, but it has definitely been inept government.”

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