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Sunday, September 11, 2005

MAYBE CANADIANS AREN'T SO BAD AFTER ALL 

My favorite north-of-the-border blogger, Colby Cosh, has been a gusher of fresh insights lately. Besides noting yet another reason why the Strib is the king of the "jerkwater newspapers," he keeps coming up with interesting things to say about Hurricane Katrina, and that's no mean feat. Last week, for instance, he pointed out (a) that looters should perhaps be praised as providers of free salvage services for New Orleans-area retailers and (b) that those who fault The Big Easy for not adopting Dutch-like solutions to the dangers of living below sea level are retarded. Now, in response to those who hold up the disaster of the disaster-response as a rebuke to small-government libertarian types, he gives us this bravura paragraph:
So let's just recap briefly, shall we? We've got a million or so human beings living in a low-lying area created in the first place by government engineers. The local government of New Orleans, apprised of an approaching storm, summarily orders everybody out of the city about 36 hours too late without lifting a finger to provide the means to do so. At the last minute it occurs to somebody to herd those left behind into a large government-built structure, the Superdome; no supplies are on hand for its inhabitants, and the structure itself is rendered--according to the government's assessment--permanently useless. Even though the storm misses the city, government-built levees fail in unforeseen and catastrophic ways. Many of the New Orleans cops opportunistically quit their jobs, many more simply fail to show up for work, others take the lead in looting supplies from storm-stricken neighbourhoods, and just a few have the notable good grace to shoot themselves in the head. The federal government announces that assistance is on its way, sometime; local and state authorities--who have the clear-cut burden of "first response" under federal guidelines nobody seems to have read--beg for the feds to hurry up while (a) engaging in bureaucratic pissing-matches behind the scenes and (b) making life difficult for the private agencies who are beating the feds to the scene. Eventually the federal government shows up with the National Guard, and to the uniform indignation and surprise of those who have been screaming for it, the Guard turns out to have a troubling tendency to point weapons in the general direction of civilians and reporters. I'm not real clear on who starts doing what around mid-week, but the various hydra-heads of government start developing amusing hobbies; confiscating guns from civilians, demanding that photographers stop documenting the aftermath of America's worst natural disaster in a century, enforcing this demand by seizing cameras at gunpoint, shutting down low-power broadcasting stations in shelters, and stealing supplies from relief agencies and private citizens. In the wake of all this, there is probably no single provision of the U.S. Constitution left untrampled, the Posse Comitatus Act appears destined for a necktie party, and the 49% of Americans who have been complaining for five years about George W. Bush being a dictator are now vexed to the point of utter incoherence because for the last fortnight he has failed to do a sufficiently convincing impression of a dictator.
And then there's former Canadian Alex Tabarrok from Marginal Revolution, who has penned the best September 11th post of the day.

Nice job, you hosers!

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