L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 335, September 4, 2005
U.S. Out of New Orleans!
"Good Mornin' America, How Are Ya?"
Publisher, The Libertarian Enterprise
Like everybody else, we have been stunned and appalled beyond words by horrible pictures and stories coming out of hurricane-ravaged New Orleans over the past few days. We have been there ourselves on a couple of far happier occasions (it's surprisingly difficult to find anyone who hasn't), and found it to belike all big citiesboth amazingly beautiful and grotesquely distasteful by turns, and yet, in either case, absolutely unique in its amenities and its long, colorful history.
What's more, like everybody else, we have personal connections to New Orleans. Among others, my brother's next-door neighbor (and my wife Cathy's co-worker at Colorado State University) is the son of the head chef at the world-famous Bourbon Street restaurant, Antoine's. At this writing, we don't know where he is himself, or how his family is doing.
Now it appears that the historic old metropolis, which has managed to survive multiple centuries of bad weather, fire, flood, piratesmy daughter thought I was kidding about this, but of course I'm notinternational warfare and what's commonly (but incorrectly) referred to as a "civil war" has been all but destroyed. It's like something right out of a science fiction or disaster movie. Estimates of how long it may take to recover range from months to years to forever. No matter how long it takes, poor New Orleans will never be the same again.
Apparently, Hurricane Katrina is not directly responsible for this monumentally rotten state of affairs. As I said above, the city of New Orleans has survived far worse in the past. If this were a game of Clue we're playing, the winning answer to "Who murdered this fine old city?" would have to be: government at every level, with your money, in Washington, D.C., Baton Rouge, and the Crescent City itself. Most of the blame belongs to the feds, of courseespecially to the stupefyingly idiotic Chimpanzee-in-Chief currently running itbut there is plenty of blame left over to go around, and it'll be months, years, or possibly forever getting itself sorted out to anybody's satisfaction.
Before we get to anything or anybody else, it's vitally important to discuss FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Administration]. Shortly after the San Francisco earthquake that famously dropped a two-level highway on hundreds of cars and cracked the baseball stadium while a World Series game was being played, I spoke with a friend in the Bay Area who was a police officer on the scene. Deeply frustrated, he told me several hair-curling stories about the way these federal bureaucrats got in the way of real disaster relief workers, strutting around for the television cameras, trying to look important, following an agenda of their own that had little to do with what needed to be done.
FEMA, in fact, is an illegal organization. It's mentioned nowhere in the Constitution (which lists the lawful powers of the government in Article I, Section 8), nor did anybody ever vote about it, neither you nor I, nor even the Congress. It was created out of thin air by Presidential fiat, and given unprecedented power to override, at gunpoint, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the rule of law in general.
Since the San Francisco earthquake, I have been paying attention. In all that time, I have never heard anybody, civilian or local official, who had anything to say about FEMA that didn't make it seem like a combination of the Nazi Gestapo and the Black Death. Apparently there is no situation so tragic and overwhelming that they can't make it even worse. FEMA has an unanswerable power of life and death over entire communities and there is nothing to protect those communitiesor anything else that is uniquely Americanfrom its foul dictatorial grasp.
FEMA is, in fact, the crown jewel and supreme exemplar for a management state mindset that regards human beings as mere dumb chattel, to be numbered, branded, and shuffled around like livestock. As I have said before, this mindset feels threatened at the slightest manifestation of individualitylet alone of individualismaround it.
This became painfully clear when, pursuing an agenda which is, at best, irrelevant to survival today in New Orleans, and more probably inimical to it, thugs controlling refugee access to the New Orleans SuperDome decreed that no one in possession of a gun (or drugs or alcohol, which might at least have made the situation a little more bearable) would be permitted inside. Instead, they could stay outside and die for all the thugs cared, and began wand-raping thousands of sick, frightened, and exhausted people in line, causing a four-hour delay.
All of this was going on, it is understood, in a city being looted by various low-lives, murderers, thieves, and cops, a city afloat with ancient coffins and freshly dead, decaying corpses, a city where the streets and alleys had become part of a horror-comic estuary teeming with poisonous semi-aquatic snakes and opportunistic alligators. And no, I am not kidding about that last. I saw an early interview with a man, very shaken and angry, who had nearly become hot dinner for a gator that had been craftily lying in wait for him in his flood-filled car.
John Wyndham, author of The Day of the Triffids and many other thrillers about world-shattering disasters, could not have written it better. And yet these stories are now apparently being suppressed because they have a lesson to teach about the necessity of owning weapons.
People need the means of self-defense in any emergency situation, and they have been disarmed at the very moment they need their weapons most. With FEMA in charge, doing Hillary Clinton's and Sarah Brady's work, every death caused by criminals or animals is blood on the agency's already deeply soiled hands. Meanwhile, predictably, the inside of the SuperDome, thanks to this policy of victim disarmament, has become a rape-gang-infested, garbage and excrement-filled scene straight out of Escape from New York, as the strongest bullies have their way with victims rendered helpless by a government that wants to be free to bully them itself, chivvy them about, and ship them off to Texas.
None of this would have been possible without a population already dependent on government for its very existence. As everybody knows now, it wasn't the hurricane that killed New Orleans, but a massive failure of levees and pumps that, until now, kept the city safe and dry even though it's below sea level. Fingers are beginning to be pointed all around the daisy-chain at local politicos who feel they didn't get enough emergency money, at the Corps of Engineers in charge of the levees and pumps that failed, at a Bush Administration which stole funding for maintenance and emergency personnel in order to conduct an illegal middle eastern war simply to enrich its friends and family.
But the real culprits, sad to say, are the ordinary people who are suffering the most at present, and who will continue to suffer from disease, dehydration, impoverishment, and black despair because, since at least the 18th century, they have left it to government to defend their city and keep it operating. Nowif they permit themselves to see itthey have firsthand evidence of what government is actually all about: looting the productive class and absolutely nothing else. Beyond that, our elected and appointed parasites don't really give a damnand haven't for a lot longer than just since the 18th centurywhether its poorer victims live or die, just as long as they do it quietly.
In my 1993 novel Pallas, I wrote about the "Big One", an apocalyptic California earthquake that everybody has anticipated for decades, which kills twenty million people in 2023, and breaks the back of a United States government so ponderous and voraciously all-consuming that financially beleaguered and vastly over-governed western states, in two centuries' worth of weariness, disgust, and protest, have already stopped electing and sending representatives to Washington.
Our answer must be a similar one. Just as we demand that the war in Iraq and elsewhere be chopped off and our soldiers brought home, so we must demand that FEMA and other illegal organizations be abolished. We back our demands with a determination not to vote for any incumbent politician anywheremost of whom passed the so-called "Patriot Act" without reading ituntil they start obeying the highest law of the land.
Just as I was finishing this essay, I learned that my brother's next-door neighbor and my wife's co-worker is alive and well and that his folks were evacuated safely, although they don't know about their family home or the restaurant. Understanding human beings as I do, I'm confident the Big Easy will survive and become its old, comfortable, quaintly corrupt self much sooner than the experts are willing to predict.
After all, we dropped A-bombs on two Japanese cities in 1945 that are as bustling and beautiful today as they ever were before Fatman and Littleboy.
But it's also possible that the fall of New Orleans will turn out to be the "Big One" for American politics, and that the answer to the question posed by the title of this essay (which is from the lyrics of a song called "The City of New Orleans") will be, "Awake at long last, seeing government as it really is"no more than a deadly dangerous fraud.
Time and tide will tell.
Help Support TLE by patronizing our advertisers and affiliates.