By Robert Freedland
October 05, 2005
At the same time, the Federal Government has already spent $15 billion of its budgeted $50 billion or more that it plans to spend on recovery in the region. Couldn't the Feds have found $60 million in that $50 billion to keep the City of New Orleans government alive? Or are the Feds upset about Mayor Nagin's well-publicized pleas for help, when he screamed on the networks about the Feds getting their "asses" down to New Orleans? Wasn't his anger understandable?
You have all seen the faces of the victims in New Orleans. They are mostly the African-American members of that society that suffered from poverty and likely didn't even own a car to help them evacuate. Now they have been scattered across communities, with tens of thousands of them still sitting in shelters awaiting a permanent home or return to their own home in the Big Easy.
It is said that 200,000 New Orleanians lost their jobs in the Katrina disaster. If you have seen the pictures of the City today, you would realize that there are easily 200,000 jobs that need to be done. Streets needing to be cleaned. Mold removed from homes. Roofing repairs to be made. Electrical wiring to be restrung. Schools and family homes needing reconstruction. And walls needing repainting, carpets needing to be installed, furniture needing restoration. The list is literally endless.
But this Administration doesn't get it or simply doesn't really care. Whereas a WPA-styled program is needed to give these New Orleanians jobs and hope for the future, instead we are presented with the Ronald Reagan "trickle down" economic plans of the neocons, a program developed by the Heritage Foundation to create "Enterprise Zones".
Unemployed people don't need conservative theoretical experiments when they and their family are out of work. They need jobs.
But the companies given work by this Administration are being made exempt from Affirmative Action programs designed to help the very people who made up the largest class of victims of Katrina, African-Americans. Instead work is going to non-local companies, friends of this Administration like Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton. Furthermore, wage requirements for these workers are being waived while the very need for wages by homeless people cannot be disputed. But these jobs aren't going to the homeless, and the incentives to hire minorities are being relaxed.
American and New Orleans need a President who worries first about the people and second about neoconservative experiments. We need a Franklin Roosevelt who can put Americans in need back to work, and not a George W. Bush who doles out dollars to businesses and puts cronies in position of responsibility. A jobs program on the scale of the WPA is needed to get Americans from New Orleans back on their feet.
There are over 200,000 Louisianans out of work due to Katrina and Rita. There are more than 200,000 jobs that need to be done. The time for experiments is past. The time for jobs is now.
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