Americans are decent, generous, Christian people who understandably want to help others. But our desire to help must be tempered by our responsibility to our countrymen to maintain an orderly, safe, and prosperous country. It also must be tempered by some recognition that Haiti’s bad circumstances are not caused by the earthquake, but rather are exacerbated by the earthquake; the conditions that made the earthquake so bad stem from the characteristics of the Haitian people and the unique characteristics of Hatian society. Even David Brooks recognizes this obvious fact. So I was a little chagrined to learn that Florida may be taking in several hundred thousand “evaucees” from Haiti, most of whom I imagine will never leave.
A very similar, though less dramatic, experiment took place in Houston, Texas in 2005, where Bill White, our mayor and basic centrist liberal, extended the red carpet to New Orleans’ many Katrina refugees. It was a noble gesture, and Houston responded quite well logistically, but longer-term it’s a gesture for which the poor and working class Houstonians had to bear the brunt of the cost. Homicide went up 28%. Crime in general increased. Many refugees remained stuck in a cycle of dependency that they had begun as welfare cases in New Orleans. Most Houstonians had ambivalent or negative feelings about the Katrina refugees in the end.
There is no reason to think the outcome will be different in the case of the many Haitian refugees we may soon be taking in. Indeed, because of language barriers and an even more corruption-ridden antecedent in Haiti, it will probably be worse. The refugees won’t live in the fanciest neighborhoods, but rather in poor and working class apartment complexes on government subsidies. Haitian gangs, Haitian attitudes about crime and corruption, and Haitian disrespect for law and order will almost certainly follow in their wake, as they have followed those Haitian immigrants already here in Florida.
This is not a tough call. There is good reason to be helping Haitians in Haiti. They’re in our hemisphere. We have the resources to help. It’s part and parcel of a Western Hemisphere oriented foreign policy. But there is no reason to take in massive numbers of Haitians into our country in order to extend that help. Such a refugee policy will hurt vulnerable and poor Americans–white and black–in order for the leadership classes to feel good for a day or a week until they move on to some other pet cause. Charity does not require that we endanger ourselves and hurt third parties to whom we have responsibilities and ties of citizenship.
We no more have to take these forlorn Haitians into our homeland to show our compassion than we have to take real life, often self-destructive, homeless people into our real life homes. But that’s what Obama and company want Florida to do for Haiti: a gesture stemming from a perfect storm of liberal compassion, the opportunity to show a “lack of racism,” indifference to America’s working class, and the cultivation of a political constituency through specialized immigration policy. This is going to be bad and especially bad for Florida.
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I’m sure glad we spent $127 Billion or so of taxpayer money to rebuild the most inherently vulnerable city in the United States: a poorly governed, high-crime, unproductive, and below-sea-level catastrophe waiting to happen. Now it will get destroyed again. And Bush, to show his compassion, will offer another few hundred billion of taxpayer money.
Wouldn’t it be so much easier just to write big checks to New Orleans’ citizens? As it is, some $400K plus could have been distributed to each family in New Orleans. Instead, the poor people are still poor. The city is more dangerous than ever. And it still will inevitably be washed away by a hurricane some day. It’s true, any giveaway would have some leaks. Money would be spent improvidently on 24″ rims and craps games. But surely a lot more would be spent on moving people to higher ground, perhaps in other parts of the region where relatives live or in completely new cities where their neighbors’ good habits would rub off, just as New Orleanians’ bad habits often bring out the worst in locals.
Why should tons of money from productive and safe parts of the country like South Dakota, Maine, and Oregon be spent on that sinking ship of a city?
I don’t mean to be insensitive. I do feel bad for the people of New Orleans, recognize that it’s unrealistic economically for many to move out without assistance, and would not oppose some program to help them transition to being on their feet more productively in another city. But the government should help people, not cities. And New Orleans is done for. . . . if not with Gustav, then when some other mega-storm hits.
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I’m sure we can expect Iowans to start looting, raping one another, and acting like animals on account of the recent flooding. I mean, this is what flooding–and the incompetent response of President George W. Bush–do to communities, you know. There’s no other factors of note that make people rape one another, shoot at rescue helicopters, and the like.
When liberals see these two distinct responses to similarly unfortunate and stressful situations, to what do they attribute it, I wonder. When in doubt, flush it down the memory hole, I guess.
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San Diego and New Orleans have both been battered by massive natural disasters in recent times. These natural disasters have been compounded in both areas by policies luring people to live in areas that are too risky for habitation. Nonetheless, California has seen minimal loss of life and disorder from its recent, massive brush fires. Firefighters, the police, and the California National Guard have performed and cooperated admirably. And Qualcomm stadium has seen none of the nightmarish conditions that befell New Orleans’ Superdome. Unlike Kathleen Blanco and Ray Nagin, Governor Schwarzenegger wasn’t seen on TV cursing and weeping.
Why is this? Good luck?
Hardly. The affected residents of San Diego are largely middle class home owners, people that respect the property and lives of others, people that expect and have obtained relatively good government and government services. In contrast, New Orleans and Katrina represented a perfect storm: a bad government ruled by ethnic hustlers, a legacy of Latin-style corruption stretching back to the days of French rule, bad infrastructure, and a long legacy of tolerance for disorder, laziness, and criminality among a substantial fraction of New Orleans’ residents. No government can easily govern such people. No program, procedure, or plan can make do when victims do not evacuate themselves, prey upon one another, and do little to help out.
San Diego will soon recover. Its people, who’ve providently obtained insurance, will rebuild there or elsewhere. Some will move on. New residents will move into the neighborhoods that have been devastated, hopefully with homes designed to withstand fires and at slightly lower prices to reflect the risks. Looting will not occur on a large scale not because it is impossible to get away with, nor because the people do not have needs, but because the vast majority of people in San Diego are civilized. People make the city, not the laws or physical environment. The people of New Orleans have demonstrated far too many anti-social values to succeed, regardless of the mistakes of FEMA, George Bush, the local and state governments, or any other institution. As in Iraq, if people are violent, tribal, indifferent to the common good, and unused to playing by the rules, no program or plan can do any good. In these cases, natural disasters simply reveal the rot that always existed.
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