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Comments by YACCS
Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Price of Poverty

Walking to nowhere

New Orleans, despite it's tourist friendly image, has always lived on the edge, of poverty, of a great flood. So when things collapse, there is no surprise that the city collapses into disorder.

Many, many New Orleans residents barely had the resources to survive day to day living. When government checks come on the first week of the month, and even those with jobs may not have access to savings or even a bank account, cashing their checks at check cashing places, the ability to leave in a hurry is nearly impossible.

And when people talk about looting, there is a situation where there is no order, no supply, no water and no light. Also, people are being told to not walk around barefoot to avoid skin infections. Jungle rot and trench foot are all too common in damp situations. That means people can't walk.

The problem is that the government is treating this like a US domestic crisis where people can drive to relief centers and that ain't it.

First, you have a lot of poor people who have NO resources. None. So a late check can be a problem. Katrina? They're in survival mode, but then most of their lives have been desperate anyway. They can adapt to desperate. It's the middle class who are going to get a reality check. Their savings are going to crash, their credit cards are maxed out, and they are going to be just as stranded as the poor, one-third of the city. Only the rich can live away from home for extended periods. People are already outside the Astrodome, looking for shelter, but being refused because they didn't come from the Superdome. All the middle class people who sneered at the poor and supported Bush are going to be just like those poor people are, just as reliant as they are for a government handout.

Someone suggested that if there was another 9/11, people would rally around Bush.

Here it is and people are pissed.

When Andy Sullivan knocks Kos for saying this is worse than 9/11, he's wrong and Kos is right, because I lived through 9/11 without so much as a lost glass of water. This is a lot closer to an attack than any natural disaster we've seen. An entire city has turned into a movie set, and I mean Escape from New York. The people fleeing New Orelans are refugees, soemthing we haven't seen since the Civil War. The Astrodome is a temporary solution, and refugee camps will have to be built. There are sharks and alligators swimming in the streets, nobody will be going home for a long time.

There is still an inability to realize the scale of this. They are talking about trucking in supplies. Why not do what they did in Afghanistan and just drop food and water from C-130's? They need to act like this is a humanitarian crisis, and not just a national disaster.

The decision making here is flawed. While the Louisiana NG sits in Mosul, the mayor has to drag cops from search and rescue to looter patrol. Why? Because armed gangs are playing Baghdad, 2003. One guy shot his AK at a police station.

Why does it matter that the NG is in Iraq? Because the infantry which would be stopping looters is in Iraq. It's one thing to get water and shoes, another to rob anything which came along. Which is what some people are doing.

Of course, as the middle class runs out of class, they will start stealing and going nuts because they are just that desperate.

And the surprise: Atlanta has $5 gas. Hmmm, there's no risk of a riot there, is there.

What bothers me is the pace. When you have starving people in other countries, the AF can drop supplies to the needy. In the US, people have to wait for trucks which may not come for days. People are going to die at this pace.

How poor is NOLA?

Read, then ask yourself if you're suprised at how people are reacting.
Blanco held a poverty summit in December to develop ideas on how to confront Louisiana's nation-topping poverty statistics. In 2003, the number of families living in poverty in Louisiana was about 181,000. Nearly 30 percent of people younger than 18 in Louisiana live in poverty, while almost 15 percent of its citizens 65 and older also are below the poverty line. Those figures are close to double the national averages.

Blanco's "Solutions to Poverty" summit, held in Monroe, ordered each parish to form its own group of experts in the worlds of nonprofits, business and faith-based initiatives, along with other volunteers to start at the local level. The New Orleans region includes Orleans and St. Bernard parishes. Orleans has a 34 percent poverty rate while St. Bernard's is more than 17 percent.

Unemployment rate -- June 2003(for New Orleans): 6.6%

Unemployment rate -- June 2002 (for New Orleans): 6.1%

Unemployment rate -- June 2003 (Louisiana): 7.6%

Unemployment rate -- June 2002 (Louisiana): 7.0%

Civilians employed: 562,100

Civilians unemployed: 32,000

Projected job growth, by state: 4.6%

Projected income growth, by state (projected per-capita income change: 1988 through 2020):
39.8% (for Louisiana)

Once again, the government is telling you what most people know by walking down their street -- people are hurting, financially.

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that the nation's official poverty rate rose from 11.7 percent in 2001 to 12.1 percent in 2002. Four out of 10 of those poor people live in the South, the poorest part of the nation. In Louisiana, the poverty rate is a third higher than the United States as a whole. Over the past three years, 17.9 percent -- nearly one in five people -- have been poor in this state. That's basically a tie for highest poverty rate in the nation with Arkansas, where the poverty rate officially stands at 18 percent.
The underserved
As the 40-year-old DeSalvo sees it, New Orleans represents a gold mine for her research. For one thing, more than a quarter of the city’s population lives below the poverty line. Low-income patients, she says, are more likely than others to suffer from more than one chronic condition, such as obesity, heart disease or diabetes. In addition, more than two-thirds of the local populace is black, constituting what DeSalvo says is an understudied minority group.

For the past 10 years DeSalvo, an associate professor of clinical medicine, has juggled her time among Tulane Hospital and Clinic, the Medical Center of Louisiana’s Charity Hospital and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, developing strategies to identify and treat high-risk individuals. Among other trends she’s examined, she has seen that when the cheapest and most accessible food available to people is at a McDonald’s or Popeye’s restaurant, then those individuals are not likely to be eating enough peas and carrots. Similarly, they probably won’t buy drugs to treat their high cholesterol if they don’t have enough money to clothe their children. And if they’re scared to walk down the street, they probably aren’t getting enough exercise.

If that sounds far-fetched, consider this: New Orleans sits below sea level and is locked in by an extensive levee network, like a giant flood-prone bowl; a modest Category 3 storm could deposit up to 27 feet of water in some neighborhoods. A few years ago, the American Red Cross ranked the prospect of a hurricane's hitting New Orleans as the country's deadliest natural disaster threat, with up to 100,000 dead. Still, many Big Easy denizens insist they'll stay put for the next one. "There's a reason New Orleans has a drink called the hurricane," says Jeanne Hurlbert, an LSU sociology professor. "The culture here is 'we don't evacuate.'"
New Orleans is home to many social and economic disparities. For example, 58 of the 73 neighborhoods in the city have a poverty rate higher than the national average. In 17 neighborhoods, over two-thirds of the children under six live in poverty and in one neighborhood 94% are below the poverty level. These neighborhoods are served by nearly 2,500 nonprofit organizations that, based on recent evidence, fail to use and share community-based information effectively

posted by Steve @ 9:11:00 PM

9:11:00 PM

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