"There are 10^11 stars in the galaxy. That used to be a huge number. But it's only a hundred billion. It's less than the national deficit! We used to call them astronomical numbers. Now we should call them economical numbers." ~ Richard Feynman
Lady Katrina, Bearer of Hard Truths
By now Hurricane Katrina's immediate aftermath in the Gulf states has been witnessed by all, and will doubtless be rehashed in various media in the coming days. It is imperative that the correct lessons be learned from this disaster, in order to prevent its recurrence.
Various Left-Statists and other opponents of the current rulers have seen this as a clarion call to stick it to the Bush administration, extolling their particular State-oriented coercive methods as a "better way" to deal with such disasters. Even now, the charge is being leveled that the axis around which this whole disaster spun was one of race and class, in that the people hardest-hit in New Orleans were mostly poor and black. Well, that may be true, but these are as incidental and meaningless as the facts that they were mostly Southern, or all human; the government did not fail to save them because they were poor and/or black, the government failed to save them because it has no incentive to do so no matter who they are. What penalty attaches to any government worker or agency for failure to perform as advertised? Who is going to enforce that penalty? Who can we get our money back from? (Of course, no State functionary is ever so foolish as to offer a money-back guarantee. Only those greedy, capitalist, profit-sucking, price-gouging, bourgeoisie, running pig-dogs do things like that, because they don't give a shit about customer satisfaction at all. They hate our freedom, you know.)
While sticking it to the Bush administration (or any "administration," for that matter) is certainly a noble goal, focusing on that goal to the exclusion of all else is a perilous undertaking; the entire system, not just its current visible head, must be excoriated for its manifold failures. And failures they are, on many levels and on many scales. Were the establishment of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, and various and sundry other agencies not billed to those of us fools footing the bill as a "better solution" to the problems of natural and man-made disasters than the alternatives of prudence, self-help, civil and volunteer assistance, charity organizations, and private enterprise? Of course they were. And all of those fools, you and I both, have been mulcted many times over to pay for this fiasco and others just like it.
Well? Where's my f***ing refund? I can turn on a satellite receiver and see corpses floating in the flooded-out areas of Bangladesh during monsoon season. I was under the impression that the reason I have my wealth repeatedly confiscated at gunpoint is so that I need not ever see or suffer such tragedy here in America. Isn't that right? I can see rampaging mobs in any of several dozen Third World Statist paradises, prominently featuring the Kalashnikov-wielding child-soldiers of the Supreme Boruru or Fedayeen of the Maximum Ayatollah or whoever snuffing hapless civilians for the crime of wearing the wrong clothing, looting random shops and churches, or perhaps just raping any female in sight. Gee, I was told that all that money was going to prevent such things from happening here, not to buy hardened "Crisis Command Centers" where perfumed State-approved sociopaths can see images of their policies' consequences on a 24-screen video wall while eating four-star food from the gourmet kitchen, protected from their terrified subjects' retribution by soldiers manning machine gun nests at the entrance. See, I seem to remember hearing something about us having a "better way of doing things" than the various banana-republic dictatorships where we expect this sort of shit to be happening. Oh, wait, I remember now--that was ALL BULLSHIT, designed to get fools to hand over their money without argument or protest. Sorry, I lost my mind there for a second.
However, all of that is unimportant. The important concept is this:
DO NOT PERMIT THIS EVENT TO BE HIJACKED BY THOSE WITH ANOTHER STATIST AGENDA. DO WHAT YOU CAN TO EMBED KNOWLEDGE OF THE ACTUAL CAUSES OF THIS DISASTER IN THE PUBLIC MIND.
The disaster has done quite a bit all by itself, but these events need to have their full context provided to be fully appreciated, and to immunize the body politic against more self-serving explanations from other quarters. And such explanations are dribbling forth, even now--things are going to get Wagnerian over the next couple of weeks, and if incorrect explanations are not countered with the truth, the remedies that arise from this tragedy are going to be worse than useless.
Maintain control of this argument! Maintain focus! The problem is not "Bush," the Republican Party, the "Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy," or whatever. Those are misdirections. The machinery of State, which destroys or distorts all human relations, is the source of this disaster. The problems caused by this machinery are legion.
The problem is the structure of all government-run enterprises, which of necessity select for the grossly incompetent and which have no incentive to produce any good outcome or indeed any outcome at all.
The problem is a welfare and education system which produced and nourished 100,000 subjects in New Orleans alone who did not have any incentive to save enough to survive times of trouble; who were not taught or even in most cases permitted to learn the techniques of survival in extremis; who did not heed warnings of danger; and when that danger came and threatened their lives, whose conditioning led them to cower and beg the State God to come and save them instead of working to save themselves and each other, and to obey what commands of the State God were given them. These failures, taken all together, inexorably led to their dying . . . by the score . . . in filth . . . like animals. Which is, after all, all that ordinary peons are to the State--just so much meat.
The problem is the hubristic disaster-response mechanism which bills itself as the world's finest, which has probably killed thousands of people in this single fiasco by gross incompetence which will not be punished in any meaningful way, which is busy proclaiming the success of its mission even as it refuses to assist or even permit others to remediate this disaster, and which commits its greatest evil by the widespread fostering of the belief that somebody will be there to help in time, when in fact nobody will.
The problem is, in summary, the wealth-destroying and lie-generating machinery of the State, which chews up productive labor, capital and lives, and spits back shabby half-assed ersatz replicas of effective solutions, all the while mumbling vaguely pleasant-sounding blandishments about "the greater good." These are the problem, not the current Maximum Leader. Keep that in mind. Keep it in everybody else's mind, too.
It is instructive to note that every single success story of this tragedy has been a story of the private sector, from donations by private individuals, to the hotel manager chartering buses to try to get stranded tourists home only to have the buses confiscated by the military, to the non-profit hospital that has done its best to remain functional even though it is low on supplies, to the Red Cross which has attempted to provide assistance to the city only to be turned back by FEMA. It is equally instructive to note that every single failure in this tragedy to date has been one of the so-called "public sector," from the very policies that set the stage for this catastrophe in the first place, to the seizure of private property, to the spurning of offered aid, to the sheer otherworldly lunacy of some of the pronouncements made by the choreographers of this cataclysm which were easily contradicted by any 30 seconds of videotape from the affected regions. (Michael "Of the Demons"  Chertoff comes to mind: "We're doing a great job there!" Yeah. Way to go, Mike. Can we bury the corpses in your front yard? Is it even big enough?)
Lady Katrina--hateful, murderous bitch though she was--has given us many truths in her passage. Those truths are ugly. They were also expensive. Make damn sure, then, that every time you speak on this subject, those truths are driven home, not wasted. Do not permit the facts surrounding this disaster to be spun into a State triumph or "disappeared" into the Memory Hole, as has happened with so many other State failures of our time. To do so is to squander what little good might be salvaged from this farce, this tragedy, this goddamned waste.
 "Chertoff," loosely translated from the Russian, means "Of the Demons." Droll, isn't it?