Friday, April 27, 2007
In 1900, the city of Galveston, Texas was nearly obliterated by a severe hurricane. Its citizens immediately started rebuilding the city and making it more hurricane-resistant.
The latter involved building a seawall and raising the land behind it. Although there was some government aid, the home owners themselves had to bear the cost of raising their houses.
Ignoring advice from its sister paper, The Dallas Morning News, that it move temporarily to Houston, The Galveston Daily News continued publishing from the island and never missed an issue. Sept. 9 and 10, 1900, were published together on a single sheet of paper. One side listed the dead. The other reported the devastation of the storm.500 city blocks had been raised by as much as 11 feet within a decade.
In the first week after the storm, according to [David G.] McComb's book, telegraph and water service were restored. Lines for a new telephone system were being laid by the second.
"In the third week, Houston relief groups went home, the saloons reopened, the electric trolleys began operating and freight began moving through the harbor," McComb wrote.
Residents of Galveston quickly decided that they would rebuild, that the city would survive, and almost as soon, leaders began deciding how it would do so.
The oldest part of the seawall still visible runs from Sixth street to 39th street and was built between 1902 and 1904, he said. [bold added]
By contrast, residents of New Orleans who fled Hurricane Katrina in 2005 have just learned that they will be receiving government assistance at least through 2009 to continue living in Houston while assorted leftists complain (See PS.) about Latin American immigrants taking "their" jobs during the agonizingly slow rebuilding of New Orleans.
Housing assistance for more than 120,000 displaced families, which was scheduled to end Aug. 31, will continue through March 1, 2009. Starting March 1, 2008, recipients will be required to make monthly payments starting at $50 and increasing to $600 by the time the assistance ends.A century later, despite the fact that our vastly higher general level of prosperity and numerous technological advances could make the rebuilding and fortification of New Orleans against future storms easier in some respects than that of Galveston, the recovery of the Crescent City moves at a snail's pace while nearly three times the entire pre-hurricane population of 1900 Galveston will remain on the dole at the time by which a more enterprising citizenry had managed to build a seawall a century earlier.
On Sept. 1, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will take over the program from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which has helped families with rent, utility payments, mobile homes and travel trailers since the two hurricanes struck the Gulf Coast in 2005.
Once again, we have a glaring example of the fact that the welfare state does not bring about what most Americans know as prosperity. And yet, the man-made welfare state is accepted as an unquestionable, unalterable, metaphysical fact. Why? Because no one will ask why it is that they are asked to help their fellow man above and beyond imminent peril, and into perpetuity. Because of the widespread ethics of altruism, which provides the welfare state with its moral justification.
Such is the power of the philosophical ideas that motivate the members of a society: In one century, Americans on a sandbar raised their own homes and built a seawall to fend off a major hurricane; by the next, the citizens of a once-great city fled it, never to return or help in its reconstruction, to live in perpetual lassitude as parasites on a nation of suckers who could not raise more than a feeble objection to the fact that it was being taken advantage of.
PS: From the leftist site linked above, I reproduce this amazing piece of evasion, in part because it is not on its own web page and I want to make sure it exists somewhere for future reference:
By some estimates, close to 100,000 new migrant workers -- Latino, African-American, Asian, Native-American, and Anglo workers either recruited to the reconstruction zones or searching on their own for better economic opportunities -- have arrived in the Gulf Coast region after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Tens of thousands have come to rebuild New Orleans. Instead of being validated and rewarded [Money, you see, is an "entitlement" to some people, and doesn't count. --ed] for their role in this city's renewal, they find themselves locked into states of marginalization and transience. Across the city, workers are living in abandoned cars, working in toxic conditions, chasing after a web of subcontractors for their wages, and running from police and immigration authorities who have intensified their enforcement efforts while labor law enforcement is lax.And those poor, brave souls in Galveston at the turn of the last century had it any better?
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of former New Orleans residents -- many of whom lived paycheck to paycheck on hospitality industry poverty wages before Katrina -- face tremendous barriers to finding meaningful employment. [Like what? Greyhound? Amtrak? The Interstate Highway system? Southwest Airlines? --ed] Survivors of the hurricane attempting to return home find they have no housing, no schools for their children, no public infrastructure to support them. They are, consequently, locked out of the burgeoning labor market in their own hometown.
Such cluelessness of the left, while sometimes only apparent, and as a result of deliberate context-dropping, is also sometimes a symptom of the prevalence of the lack of the normal connection between work and reward made possible by the welfare state.