Monday, September 19, 2005

Lessons from New Orleans

The lessons that this nation can learn from the New Orleans tragedy are legion. One certainly is that a nation, no matter how wealthy, cannot spend $200 billion to prosecute a war half a world away, without contributing to the suffering and dying of its own people at home. According to the national Priorities Project, the state of Louisiana has siphoned off over $1.7 billion of its own federal taxpayer dollars for the war in Iraq. New Orleans alone anted up over $170 million. That would have bought a lot of rebuilt levees, rented fleets of buses for the evacuation of the most vulnerable and still would have left funds for an emergency communications system. See National Priorities Project Site

Louisiana had 3,000 National Guard members deployed in Iraq and unavailable for duty during the flooding. That state has lost 22 National Guard members in the war, nearly ten percent of the national total of Guard losses. None of them were available to help when the floods came.

In Des Moines last July, the Eyes Wide Open -- National Guard Memorial was present at the National Governor's Conference. The governor's officially commented that they were concerned about the deployment of National Guard troops in Iraq when they were needed for disaster relief at home. It seems that the president did not hear them.

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