Levees. Federal Levees.

Have you ever seen the HBO special “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem” directed by Spike Lee? Four hours long. Every minute is worth watching (or at least listening to). Some heroic things here – Coast Guard (who threw all regulations and restrictions out the window), Individual Police, Volunteers and Private citizens. But you’ll notice that the actual government agencies tasked exclusively with responding to emergencies like Katrina failed catastrophically. And the higher up in the government chain (read: at the Federal level) the worse the failure. Yes, everything Federal failed, predictively, including the Levees which were Federal responsibility. U.S District court ruled that the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers was solely responsible for levee failures – though they could not be held liable due to “sovereign immunity”. Was anybody held accountable? A few resignations. But nothing substantive. If a private contractor had built those levees they’d be behind bars right now for criminal negligence. Maybe worse. This tragedy alone should be enough to completely destroy anybody’s faith in government, at least at the Federal level. But it doesn’t. You could sooner convince a fundamentalist Christian to renounce his religion than you can get most folks to, not renounce, but merely question their seemingly boundless faith in the Federal government. And then you remember that the great majority of folks demand the same institution responsible for the travesty in Louisiana increase its control over our schools, our businesses, our economy, and our very lives. Like the stereotypical victim of domestic violence, we rationalize, forgive, and return to our tormentor, only to be beaten again – never learning until it’s too late. Maybe that’s the real tragedy.

“The film focuses on the suffering of those affected by the disaster and their will to survive. The film suggests that the disaster in New Orleans was preventable, caused by levees poorly designed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. It suggests that the suffering afterward was compounded by failures at all levels of government, most severely at the Federal level. These points are in line with mainstream investigations, including the bipartisan U.S. Congressional report, A Failure of Initiative, and the Army Corps of Engineers’ own studies.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_the_levees_broke


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