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USA, Katrina - Stop Bush! ...han tænker mere på sig selv end på New Orleans!
Popular organization vs. capitalist anarchy: Who can stop Bush’s giveaway plan for the Gulf
Fred Goldstein, 19. september 2005
George Bush tog til Orleans, han holdt en tale der, den 15. september om genopbygning. Alle er enige om at der er behov for genopbygning, men kritikere fremhæver at Bush kun taler om den materielle genopbygning, og en hurtig aktion, der kan styrke hans eget stadig mere blakkede image, hvorimod Bush undlader at inddrage den sociale dimension, som negligering af store dele af den farvede befolkning i stadig stigende grad udgør en belastning for såvel Washington, som for den lokale politiske og administrative ledelse i Louisiana og New Orleans.
President George W. Bush’s speech from New Orleans on Sept. 15 was supposed to be about the city's recovery, but it really was aimed at achieving a Bush recovery.
The monumental task of reconstructing the devastated Gulf region and of bringing immediate and long-term aid to the 250,000 affected families, the vast majority of them African American, was not the real concern of Bush and his handlers. It was a panic speech completely inadequate to the task. It was not thought out.
Bush put forward proposals aimed first and foremost at aiding capitalist businesses interests, primarily in real estate and construction. To the extent that he outlined any plan, it was based on capitalist anarchy.
But a high degree of social and economic organization is needed for a genuine recovery—and such an effort must rest first and foremost on the interests and concerns of the workers, taking all the people and nationalities of the region into consideration, particularly the African American population.
Bush’s urgent concern was to try to wipe away the image of racist indifference generated in the first five days of the crisis, as Washington sat on its hands while tens of thousands of African Americans in New Orleans were trapped without food, water or medicine.
His goal was to project a massive effort at reconstruction, show ‘leadership,’ and avoid the ugly issues of why Washington spends more than $5 billion a month for the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, but could not spend the money to reinforce the levees in New Orleans—after urgent warnings from all quarters.
Bush was forced to refer in his speech to persistent poverty that ‘has its roots in racial discrimination.’ But this reference, feigning sympathy with Black people suffering in the Gulf region, will ring hollow for its hypocrisy.
It is the Bush administration, with its cuts in everything from food stamps to Medicaid to Section 8 housing, that has accelerated poverty in this country. And every cut in social services has a profoundly racist effect because African Americans, Latin@s and other oppressed peoples are the ones most desperately in need of those social services—due to centuries of racism and national oppression.
Bush’s racist record cannot be wiped away by a phrase. The Bush administration, it should be remembered, joined a private lawsuit attempting to undo affirmative action at the University of Michigan. And more Black people were executed in Texas when Bush was governor than in any other state in U.S. history.
The leadership of the world’s imperialist super-power has been humiliated by its failure to subdue Iraq. Now that has been compounded by the disorganization, confusion and rebellion in New Orleans.
In a speech hastily devised for political damage control, concealment of blame, and a show of leadership, Bush proposed to ‘confront’ poverty with ‘bold action.’
He proposed a Gulf Opportunity Zone to provide immediate tax relief for small business, ‘incentives to companies that create jobs’ and ‘loans and loan guarantees for small businesses, including minority businesses. It is entrepreneurship that helps break the cycle of poverty, and we will take the side of entrepreneurs as they lead the economic revival of the Gulf region,’ he said.
This proposal amounts to $2 billion out of the $60 billion already appropriated. (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 17) It will be given as early tax write-offs for businesses. So this part is a recovery for capitalists. To help them, Bush has suspended the Davis-Bacon Act, which requires any business getting government funding to pay the prevailing wage.
The success of this process relies on the success of small businesses, assuming that they do invest. But that success relies on an already precarious capitalist economy, in which there is an enormous failure rate for startup small businesses. Can these ‘entrepreneurs,’ a prettified term for capitalist exploiters, big and small, absorb the 400,000 workers said by the government to have lost jobs in the region?
How will the workers get these jobs? How will they and their families live until they get them?
Bush proposes worker recovery accounts of $5,000 for job training and education ‘to get a good job.’ Suppose there is no ‘good job,’ or no job at all?
Bush proposed an Urban Homesteading Act under which government land would be deeded over to people who would get help with a mortgage if they promise to build on it and work with a charitable organization. What does such a proposal mean to a poor family from the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, or from Biloxi, Miss., who lived from paycheck to paycheck before Katrina?
Bush wants to promote ‘homeownership over renting’ as the way to rebuild. What is needed is a massive government program to build affordable housing for the survivors of the hurricane. But no public housing has been built in the U.S. for decades. On the contrary, public housing has been left to rot and decay.
The people of the region should be in charge of the process. They should have access to the billions being talked about. They can decide what kind of housing they want to live in. They can also plan to rebuild the public health system and the infrastructure, instead of turning such tasks over to corporations like Bechtel, Fluor and Halliburton, or to the real estate interests lined up to squeeze profits out of the business of rebuilding.
Capitalist greed made the death and suffering from Katrina a thousand times worse than it had to be. Instead of sending troops to Iraq to seize that country’s oil, the money should have been spent on sea gates, land reclamation and levee building in New Orleans.
Capitalist greed threatens to make the ‘recovery’ chaotic and traumatic for the workers and the poor of the Gulf region. But this can be avoided if the survivors come together through self-organization and make a political struggle to gain control of the process.