...the federal government's lethal ineptitude wasn't just a consequence of Mr. Bush's personal inadequacy; it was a consequence of ideological hostility to the very idea of using government to serve the public good. For 25 years the right has been denigrating the public sector, telling us that government is always the problem, not the solution. Why should we be surprised that when we needed a government solution, it wasn't forthcoming?
--Paul Krugman in today's New York Times
...the United States, after a generation of tax-cutting and downsizing, has eviscerated the public sector's capacity for supporting the common good. The neglect of civic infrastructure, the destruction of social services, the abandonment of the safety net, the myth of "privatization," the perverse idea, dating to the Reagan era, that government is the enemy: It all adds up to what we saw last week -- government not as the enemy, but as the incompetent, impotent bystander. The bystander-in-chief, of course, is George W. Bush, whose whining self-obsession perfectly embodies what America has done to itself.
--James Carroll in today's Boston Globe
Public vs. private? This, from Friday's Boston Globe, sums it up for me (emphasis mine):
Rescuers finally made it into Charity Hospital, the largest public hospital and trauma center in the city, where gunshots prevented efforts on Thursday to evacuate more than 250 patients.
"We moved all of the babies out of Charity this morning," said Keith Simon, spokesman for Acadian Ambulance Service Inc.
"Our morgue at Big Charity is full and it is under water," said Don Smithburg, CEO of the Louisiana State University hospital system, which oversees the two public hospitals.
He said the morgue had 12 bodies, and five others were stacked in a stairwell -- in both cases under water. Other bodies were in other parts of the hospital.
As for the doctors and nurses: "Some of them are on the brink of unable to cope any longer."
He said some areas are out of food and water. "Some of my staff are giving each other intravenous fluids," Smithburg said.
A very different scenario seemed to have unfolded across the street at Tulane University Hospital, a private facility operated by one of the country's largest for-profit hospital companies, the Hospital Corporation of America. Even before the storm, which flooded the hospital in 6 to 8 feet of water, the company began arrangements to rent 20 private helicopters from around the country.
By yesterday, the hospital had evacuated 200 patients and 1,100 relatives and employees. The hospital also flew in its own security force, satellite phones, food, water, batteries, and linens, said spokesman Jeff Prescott....
Them that's got shall get, them that's not shall lose....