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Thursday, September 08, 2005

The incredible bulk

Louisiana: 51,840 sq mi
Mississippi: 48,430 sq mi
Alabama: 52,419 sq mi
Entire United States: 3,794,083 sq mi
Europe: 3,998,000 sq mi
Katrina's devastation ... covers what Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska described as twice the size as Europe.
That's from a NY Times article today. The Times doesn't bother to correct the Senator. The article is about the $51.8 billion aid bill that aWol is trying to shove through Congress. To see exactly how clueless the Times really is, read this paragraph:
The bulk of the money would go into a Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief fund that is offering debit cards of $2,000 per household to families evacuated from homes in Louisiana and Mississippi. FEMA anticipates handing out 320,000 cards, at a cost of $640 million, to help displaced residents buy clothing, pay for transportation and other "emergency supplies they need," Director Michael Brown said.
Let me say first off that this is about the only thing the feds have done or proposed so far that I approve of--giving money directly to the people in need (although shouldn't it be per person rather than per household?). But $640 million is 1.2 percent of $51.8 billion. Calling that the "bulk" of the money is like saying that Ralph Nader got the "bulk" of the votes in the 2000 election. If we considered "bulk" to mean that at least half of the money went into these debit cards, every one of those 320,000 households would be getting over $80,000 each. THAT might actually enable them to rebuild their lives, rather than just keep from starving for the next month or two.

The real bulk of the money will almost certainly be directed by the Bush cronies at FEMA into the hands of the usual suspects--Halliburton, Bechtel, and other cogs in the Repug looting machine. They'll get paid for demolishing people's houses, and then get paid again for building (some of) them crappy new ones. It worked (for them) in Iraq; it will work in New Orleans. If you have any faith left in our system, you might want to call Congress and tell them not to approve any funding which funnels the money through FEMA--at least until Brown and the rest of the political appointees are sacked. Past Peak has more on the $51 billion boondoggle (and here). And while you're at it, maybe a little e-mail to the NY Times asking them why their reporters don't bother to check facts, now that it's easier than ever?

And isn't it amazing that you could give, say, every resident of Cincinnati or Buffalo $2000 a month for less than it is costing us to destroy Iraq?