The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Sunday, September 04, 2005

New Orleans is Everywhere

New Orleans is Everywhere
by lectric

Sun Sep 4th, 2005 at 10:16:51 PDT
The tragedy of New Orleans is a harbinger of one future of our global society. New Orleans, prior to the arrival of Katrina, is everywhere. The public policy path that failed the citizens of the Gulf coast is failing citizens everywhere around the world. It is the public policy driven by the bourgeoisie - the business class.

Time to stop using "business" insights and methods to drive our public institutions. Time to stop letting the representatives of business lead the way. New Orleans shows why that doesn't work.

Globally, we are on precisely the same path as New Orleans was, prior to the arrival of Katrina. The house is on fire and we're dancing in the backyard. From the BBC:

The Bush administration, together with Congress, cut the budgets for flood protection and army engineers, while local politicians failed to generate any enthusiasm for local tax increases.

New Orleans partied-on just hoping for the best, abandoned by anyone in national authority who could have put the money into really protecting the city.

Today we live in a world where the dreams of the 17th century Bourgeoisie are fully realized. Business takes place with limited fetters and Kings and government do not meddle too much in the affairs of commerce. If anything, they are on the payroll.

Today, by their own request, business plants the crops of the future - the future of our children and grandchildren - and our capitulation to the legislative and regulatory demands of business is the sowing of the wind that will reap the whirwind.

The business-driven policies of leaders like Bush - tax cuts, deregulation, market forces - this is putting out fire with gasoline.

The inaction and neglect that led to the disaster was caused directly - not indirectly - by policies taken to appease the short-sighted requirements and needs of business. Not all businesses or business people, but most, and certainly the wealthiest. The voices of the new generation of business people - ethical, green, multiple bottom-line - are but whispers in Katrina's howl.

So let us now learn. The next time someone tells you that government should get out of the way of business, remind them of New Orleans. Remind them that New Orleans was destroyed because government caved in to the demands of business, and business leaders. Government cut taxes, deregulated, cut budgets and waited for the trickle-down most of them don't believe in anyway. In the case of the US, government went to war to protect the interests of the status quo and its reliance on cheap oil.

It should be clear now that Government needs to lead business in the right direction, and that business cannot take place unfettered. The short-term priorities of quarterly reports, annual stockholders meetings and futures markets make business leaders unreliable ministers for our global congregation. Public servants need to be our minsters.

To make this transition we need to make public service a more respected profession than business. We can do this by getting serious about electoral reform, campaign finance reform, lobbying regulations and adequate compensation for elected and un-elected public servants. We can do this by reforming our polity so its inherent structure reflects the cycles and time-scales of the problems it needs to address, not the problems and time-scales of business.

And we do all of this by getting involved and demanding a better result than the response to Katrina.


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