General Question

paperbackhead's avatar

Should the hurt and homeless after a natural disaster simply be left to fend for themselves? Articulate your reasons.

Asked by paperbackhead (333points) October 3rd, 2012

After seeing the speech Obama made to a crowd, of mostly African Americans about Hurricane Katrina it got me thinking. He was being honest, and from that sparked this question.

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30 Answers

_Whitetigress's avatar

No way. In my opinion the point of paying taxes is to allow programs that are voted in by the people for the people to function. Yes, Hurricane Katrina was an epic fail by FEMA under Bush administration.

WestRiverrat's avatar

No they should not be left to fend for themselves.

But they should also expect help to be slow in arriving. When the people coming to the rescue have to rebuild vital infrastucture as they go, it takes time. You should have a 3 day supply of nonperishable food and water at a minimum.

Bridges, power grids and roads do not repair themselves.

If the people coming to rescue in helicopters get shot at by you or your neighbors don’t expect them to hurry back. They have families they want to get back to.

woodcutter's avatar

They seemed to think that in at least one aspect of it all.The authorities thought it would be a good use of precious manpower to go house to house and strip survivors of their second amendment rights…and then left them to fend for themselves. All because a few ghetto shit-asses opened fire on some people which prompted Nagen to decide to de- gun the area. The people who were actually doing wrong did not have to surrender their protection. They never do.

Would you appreciate being left alone( after all the cops melted away), in a place where looters ruled the night, hoping they didn’t find your house? I’ll go out on a limb and say…no.

marinelife's avatar

No, of course not. Obama did not advocate doing that. he was critical of the Republican Administration’s lackluster response at the time.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Screw em, they probably don’t vote anyway.

dabbler's avatar

The hurt and the homeless should not be left to fend for themselves under any circumstances.

Only a short-sighted and completely selfish point-of-view will conclude that is acceptable.

A completely selfish long-sighted view will observe that disease and mayhem will likely ensue and at some point no amount of Blackwater/Xi private security forces and gated communities will keep you safe. Some minimal support for the most needy is necessary to keep the view from the hilltop pretty.

More enlightened points-of-view will obviously understand the value of compassion and help fellow human beings in time of need.

bkcunningham's avatar

Do you know how much private, state, federal and European Union monies went to the New Orleans after Katrina? I think his comments are insulting the the hundreds of thousands of people who volunteered to help the entire area.

wundayatta's avatar

Because the premise of the rhetorical question is so blatantly obvious, it challenges me to try to come up with some even remotely plausible reason to deny it. So I wonder, is there any possible benefit for a group of cooperative animals to stop cooperating?

What comes up for me is the model of cancer. With cancer, we have a bunch of cells that are behaving like greedy little pigs. They are hogging all the resources and dividing at a super-rapid rate. In this way, they are harming the entire being and could cause the death of the animal.

So let’s use this as a model and suggest that New Orleans is like a cancer on America. Is there any possible way we can justify this?

As it happens, there is. New Orleans was built on land that is disaster prone. If we continue to live there, we can expect disasters to hit on a regular basis. The land is beneath sea level and only stays dry due to a series of berms and levees.

While it was a strategic location to build on—on the river and near the Gulf, it was asking for trouble to build there. Floods can come from two directions—upriver and from the Gulf. Because of this, maintaining a city in this area will always demand more resources than most other cities.

Right now, no one has a choice in this. The rest of the country is paying for New Orleans because New Orleanians decided to live there, not because we decided it was worth it to us to support them in living there. Yet we keep on supporting them because people argue that we must maintain the city. Why?

Well, there are many good reasons. Besides its strategic significance, it has enormous cultural significance. It is the home of incredible music. It has a French heritage shared only by a few other urban areas nearby (Baton Rouge, e.g.). It is a place that many people want to visit. And perhaps more controversially, it is a repository of African-American culture. It is steeped in the tradition resulting from our history of slavery—a tradition that is still sending breakers that batter at the levees protecting white privilege.

So one would think that white America might want to see Black New Orleans die off. Perhaps white America sees Treme as a cancer; a social cancer growing where the river empties into the ocean.

Blacks, of course, don’t see it this way. Blacks see it as racism that they don’t get their fair share of disaster recovery aid. Blacks in New Orleans don’t see themselves as a cancer.

I don’t see New Orleans as a cancer, either. All I’m saying is that you could make the argument and it wouldn’t be entirely unreasonable. In fact, I do believe that city shouldn’t be there. It’s asking for trouble again and again. But then, the Dutch all live beneath the sea level, and they have ways of protecting themselves, so surely we Americans could find ways to protect New Orleans. Although it would be better if New Orleans paid for it themselves. I’m not saying they don’t, but I don’t know if they self fund all the Army Corp of Engineers projects that protect them.

If they paid for themselves, then I suspect people would be happier about helping them out in a disaster. But if they are being subsidized all the time, then I can see that people might get tired of it, and wonder what’s in it for us to subsidize New Orleans not just in disasters, but all the time.

This is just a thought experiment. I’m just making an argument; but don’t think I believe this.

emilianate's avatar

Of course they should fend for themselves and helping them wouldn’t be compassionate, it would be moronic.

It’s like building a city under a volcano and then act all surprised when the volcano explodes and kills all the people in the city. Then for those who do survive, you offer your sympathy by building them and giving them a bunch of free shit until they “get on their feet” only to find themselves a midst another volcanic disaster in the not too distant future. The entire incident could have been avoided and compassion only rewards bad behavior and continues to enable it further.

The best type of learning experience is when people suffer the consequences of their actions and removing all safety nets will force people to think more carefully prior to acting. Public suffering will also teach the surrounding bodies on what not to do. This is the best type of hands-on learning.

This also should be extended to people who are sick, like an obese man who suffers from the developed illnesses associated with obesity. Or a drug user. Helping them isn’t compassion, it’s just plain old stupidity.

Coloma's avatar

Of course not.
“There but for the grace of god go I.” just a nice little mantra, I am not christian but believe in the golden rule. We all need help now and then and to forsake anothers human need in their darkest hour is not brotherly love.

Nice to see you are so above any potential need for help and compassion and have all the answers, what’s it like being so perfect?

emilianate's avatar

I never said I had all the answers, nor did I say I was perfect. Way to put words in my mouth.

_Whitetigress's avatar

@emilianate That was the most idiotic argument I have ever read on Fluther. Anywhere on earth there is danger potential for any species alive. Also, nature waits for no human, you’re right, does that mean stop living? No! Does it mean don’t live in high risk disaster areas? Maybe! But you can’t criticize a whole population based on your puny opinions and highly successful experiences.

You’re idea of my U.S.A. is horrific. (let them learn) where in the world do you live? Do you also share the opinion of let all those who died in 9/11 learn their lesson? For participating in a world market? You’re obviously coming from a sociopaths mindset. We need a harmonious U.S.A. not every man for themselves, this isn’t 14 B.C.

Coloma's avatar

@emilianate I didn’t put words in your mouth, I based my reply on the words you offered up.
You insinuate that everyone deserves their hardships, I disagree with your hard nosed take.
Bottom line, until you walk a mile in anothers shoes you don’t have a leg to stand on.

emilianate's avatar


Actually, in the land of freedom, I can criticize whoever I want. The entire purpose of the U.S was not to be harmonious but to be free from it. Free from the collective mentality. The U.S.S.R was defeated. Socialism is a dead joke. Unfortunately it still partially plagues the U.S, you being the example.

The U.S isn’t yours, that is the point. You want to be a martyr or sit around and cry for the worlds injustices, or want to help out, then go ahead and help but you’re not being noble by being “compassionate” with someone else’s wallet for a cause someone else finds idiotic and doesn’t approve of.

High risk disaster areas are not a “maybe”, it’s a fact. It is something that can be avoided or prevented with precautionary measures. The buildings involved in 9–11 were build to withstand natural disasters and airplane hits. It just wasn’t sufficient but it was designed with it in mind. Your own argument supports my point and defeats yours.

_Whitetigress's avatar

@emilianate I’d rather help a fellow citizen. I’d even help you out if you fell on your ass, no matter how much Red Fear you seem to suffer from.

“The entire purpose of the U.S was not to be harmonious but to be free from it. Free from the collective mentality.”

Really? You don’t sound uneducated at all

Hmm… So we don’t have a majority vote nor electoral college vote that represents the “collective mentality?”

Ok never mind I guess I need to read more history books about the U.S.A. I’ll even start it when the east coast was a British colony, just so I don’t make any mistakes, because heaven knows according to you, the history of the U.S. during the Cold War era.

Socialism is dead?! The Irish came here, built Boston and introduced the idea, a political system in which the government should help its citizens and if not for that then the government was debunked. Your idea of every person for themselves is barbaric. You probably sympathize with 1700 England when Ireland went through it’s agricultural drought and famine. “Let them die off” was the English mentality.

Tell all your friends and family about the knowledge you have.

emilianate's avatar

I never forbade you from helping a fellow citizen. I just think its stupid that you do, and you should do it with your own resources, and I believe the citizen should suffer the consequences to learn and teach others by example.

Too much inaccuracies for me to cover the rest. I’ll just respond to one that I think is note worthy.

The constitution was designed to protect the individual (the smallest minority) from a mob mentality outvoting an individuals freedom. The needs of the many do not trump the needs of the few. FDR put an end to individual protection by appointing partisan judges to give the collective power over the individuals freedom, hence the birth of the welfare-nanny state.

Outvote me if you have such a problem with my opinion and if you can’t, then get use to it.

Coloma's avatar

@emilianate Soooo, if you have a flat tire on the highway, or your car breaks down I should pass you by, because, after all, you need to suffer the consequences, because, obviously, it is your own fault that your tire blew out or your car broke down?
I mean, after all you CHOOSE to drive a car, and cars break down, so, tough shit, spend the night on the side of the road while I am warm and cozy at home. lol

emilianate's avatar

Exactly. You get it.

I should have checked the car before going on a trip. I should have had a spare tire with a toolkit to fix any lay-man problems. I should have the number for a two truck and gps to know where I am and where the local gas station might be so I can walk to it.

I made this choice and I should have been more responsible with it. I’m not going to sit down and cry for my stupid mistakes and don’t expect anyone to help me.

Next time, I will know what to do because I learned from these mistakes.

It’s like when someone puts a cupcake in a cage for a rat but the cupcake is laced with a zapper, so each time the rat tries to grab the cupcake it gets shocked. Eventually, the rat figures out how to get the cupcake without getting zapped. You stick your hand in fire, you get burned, and next time you remember fire is painful.

Coloma's avatar

So, you are saying that ALL misfortune, ALL of the time is always of owns own device?
If I check my car and it breaks down anyway, and because I do not have GPS or carry a cell phone I should be left stranded?
Helloooo…is there a fucking LAW that says I have to have all of these things to be exempt from a driving accident?

You are a harsh master indeed.
I hope you never end up dictator of a country, whew!

emilianate's avatar

No, not all the time, but far too many. .

If you asked to understand my reasoning, then obviously there is no law. Next time you will know that you should have had a GPS and a cellphone with you when going on the road. Lesson learned or not, in which case one would be an even bigger idiot for repeating the same mistake twice.

I just approach everything logically, not emotionally. Emotions are illogical and should never be the bases for action.

Coloma's avatar

@emilianate Uh no, there should be a balance between logic and emotion, ideally.
I understand your reasoning, within reason, however, equating natural disasters with enabling drug addicts is an apples and oranges debate. What I am hearing from you is a very narcissistic and arrogant idealism, all black and white, no shades of gray.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@emilianate GPS and cell phone won’t do you much good where I do most of my travelling. No cell service up in the high country.

Don’t ever tell a Marine to never use emotion as a basis for action. Their ‘Never Leave a Man Behind’ credo has no basis in logic, yet it is one of the keys to their Esprit de Corps.

emilianate's avatar


That is bizarre. If emotions are not logical, then you’re suggesting there should be a balance being stupid and being logical instead of always being logical.

You’re implying that narcissism and striving for idealism is wrong. I do not think it is and you would be guilty of the same narcissistic behavior since you’re being inconsiderate of other individual opinions, including mine.

emilianate's avatar


Then you understand the extra risks you’re taking by driving and living in high country.

I wouldn’t tell a marine anything. But I do not agree with the credo, hence you don’t see me in the marine corp. Had I signed my life away to the marines, then I would abide by the contract that I signed.

Coloma's avatar

@emilianate I’m not into head banging so I’m done with this babble. Suffice it to say I think you lack compassion and yes, that is not a good quality. One should always lead with both their head AND their heart.
You are the one “shoulding” all over everyone else and I have only pointed that out and suggested you reform your hard ass ideals a bit.

tinyfaery's avatar


Compassion is one of the best of an infinite amount of human ideas/behaviors. We should all strive to attain

Bellatrix's avatar

While of course people who are suffering the effects of natural disasters should be given as much help as they need and as quickly as possible, @emilianate has a point. I believe, without going and doing specific research, that New Orleans has flooded on a number of occasions. Similarly, here in Queensland, our river floods. People were originally allowed to build homes close to the river and when big floods come, those houses are inundated with water and the costs to reestablish them are horrendous. Insurance companies don’t cover the whole thing or refuse to cover the costs and then government has to step in.

I don’t agree with not helping people who have been hit with a natural disaster but I do agree that our planning after that disaster, especially if it is a repeat problem, should include saying you can’t build in these areas and if you choose to, you will not be bailed out when this happens again and it will happen again. Especially with climate change, we have to be realistic and accept there are some places that aren’t suitable to build on.

wundayatta's avatar

In the US, we’ve decided to bail out people who build in flood prone areas, and if it’s New Orleans, we will do it again and again and again, as much as is necessary.

Also, if it is a fancy community with houses along the New Jersey or North Carolina or Florida shore lines, we have decided to bail them out as necessary. No one is prepared to tell those homeowners they can’t rebuild, or that the government won’t pay for them to rebuild. I wonder what Romney thinks about this.

ANyway, in the US, you can’t get private flood insurance. Only the government is stupid enough to offer it, and of course it is subsidized by tax payers. Another handout for primarily rich folks.

gm_pansa1's avatar

according to what i’ve seen and experienced? yes. hopefully this has changed since i was found standing at that damned pay phone. >_<

_Whitetigress's avatar

@gm_pansa1 That can’t be so. Looting is illegal right? But what happens when we all come together and agree that we should let them fend for themselves? Then what? Looting is still illegal? Or legal for them now? The businesses are no longer protected with the, “Everyman for themself” mentality. So how could they be left to fend for themselves? Should they all just become farmers all of a sudden and work in unison to grow crops? No. This is the U.S.A. and there are programs set up so we don’t have to live in the 1700’s all over again.

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