Tuesday, September 6

New Orleans: Personal Responsibility or Infantile Entitlement

I found this great article that ads to some of the arguments I have been presenting regarding the display of anarchy in New Orleans, and what that tells us about social values. Thomas Sowell writes about the rebuilding of New Orleans, and how the old-fashioned moral values many love to demonize are the very same values that are going to rebuild the city, and are right now saving thousands of lives. Put the pieces together--there is a serious problem with many in our society, and I believe many of these problems are being handed down as a result of a political leadership that is eager to gain votes, at the expense of individuals and a better future.

Sigmund, Carl and Alfred have some great comments related to that article I think are straight on.
There are people who want to be heard- demand to be heard- as if speaking out and criticizing can take the place of personal responsibility and actions. There are those believe that because they speak out, the focus can be taken off the job at hand- the rescue and long term needs.

Have you ever noticed that the biggest critics are the least likely to help, unless there is a self serving aspect? When was the last time Al Sharpton rolled up his sleeves and got his hands dirty? When was the last time Jesse Jackson got involved in a corporate dispute that didn't involve a payoff? When the cameras are gone, so are they.
With no regard to being repetitive, I am going to affirm the importance of personal responsibility in public policy. It's reassuring to read others writing about it.
... the City of New Orleans worshipped the image it created- that of a town with residents foolish enough to believe that life was one big party and there are no consequences to behavior.

Whatever failings the city, state or federal government are guilty of, what is deliberately being ignored is that far too many people ignored the warnings to leave. If that were not the case, there would not be so many cars left on the streets. Katrina was going to be another party- and when it wasn't, the expectation of 'government cheese' became a demand. No one has said, 'We screwed up, we should have left.' Instead, we are subjected to the outrage of these fools demanding more and better 'government cheese,' to be delivered faster. It is an outrage, we are told that the 'cheese' delivery was the problem. Americans by the millions are buying into that off the chart stupidity.
In case you don't think me credible enough, here it is from a solid, known economist. His books are used as textbooks in America's colleges. You can read Sowell's full article here.
Government cannot solve all our problems, even in normal times, much less during a catastrophe of nature that reminds man how little he is, despite all his big talk.

The most basic function of government, maintaining law and order, breaks down when floods or blackouts paralyze the system.

During good times or bad, the police cannot police everybody. They can at best control a small segment of society. The vast majority of people have to control themselves.

That is where the great moral traditions of a society come in -- those moral traditions that it is so hip to sneer at, so cute to violate, and that our very schools undermine among the young, telling them that they have to evolve their own standards, rather than following what old fuddy duddies like their parents tell them.

Now we see what those do-it-yourself standards amount to in the ugliness and anarchy of New Orleans.

In a world where people flaunt their "independence," their "right" to disregard moral authority, and sometimes legal authority as well, the tragedy of New Orleans reminds us how utterly dependent each one of us is for our very lives on millions of other people we don't even see.

Thousands of people in New Orleans will be saved because millions of other people they don't even know are moved by moral obligations to come to their rescue from all corners of this country. The things our clever sophisticates sneer at are ultimately all that stand between any of us and utter devastation.

Any of us could have been in New Orleans. And what could we have depended on to save us? Situational ethics? Postmodern philosophy? The media? The lawyers? The rhetoric of the intelligentsia?

No, what we would have to depend on are the very things that are going to save the survivors of hurricane Katrina, the very things that clever people are undermining.

New Orleans can be rebuilt and the levees around it shored up. But can the moral levees be shored up, not only in New Orleans but across America?
Hat tip to Sigmund, Carl and Alfred for bringing this article and related blogs to my attention and many thanks for engaging on this subject. Also, read more on the subject at Dr. Sanity.

Tags: Poverty, Katrina, New Orleans, flood aid, hurricane, hurricane-katrina, Politics, Economics.