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"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." Theodore Roosevelt


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Monday, September 05, 2005

Apathy No More

If there is anything positive to come out of this tragedy... Let us hope the horrific images of last week forever sear in our mind's eye the America that many of us have left behind...

Katrina did not create this racist image of African-Americans - it has simply laid bare its ahistorical bigotry, and in so doing exposed the lie of equal opportunity in the US. A basic understanding of human nature suggests everyone in New Orleans wanted to survive and escape. A basic understanding of American economics and history shows that, despite all the rhetoric, wealth - not hard work or personal sacrifice - is the most decisive factor in who succeeds. [...] The fact that the vast majority of those who remained in town were black was not an accident. Katrina did not go out of its way to affect black people. It destroyed almost everything in its path. But the poor were disproportionately affected because they were least able to escape its path and to endure its wrath. They are more likely to have bad housing and less likely to have cars. Many had to work until the last moment and few have the money to pay for a hotel out of town.

And how prevalent is this impoverishment?
The nation's poverty rate rose to 12.7 percent of the population last year, the fourth consecutive annual increase, the Census Bureau said Tuesday. [...] Overall, there were 37 million people living in poverty, up 1.1 million people from 2003. [...] The last decline in overall poverty was in 2000, when 31.1 million people lived under the threshold — 11.3 percent of the population. Since then, the poverty rate has increased steadily from 11.7 percent in 2001, when the economy slipped into recession, to 12.5 percent in 2003.
Let this be a wake up call. We must reach out to our brethren on the Gulf Coast, and in our own communities. We must reach out to our brethren in this time of crisis, and beyond. We must never forget the lives that have been lost due to willful neglect. We must cast our vote only for those who share this concern for the less fortunate. We must have apathy no more for our poor.

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