The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Playing politics with a tornado

May 14, 2007

After a tornado destroyed practically all buildings in Greensburg, Kansas on May 4, it took two days for heavy machinery to arrive for the rescue effort.

Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius blamed it on the deployment of Kansas National Guard troops and equipment in Iraq: “The National Guard is one of our first responders. They don’t have the equipment they need to come in, and it just makes it that much slower.”

These are the same kind of words we heard after the Katrina disaster also. Are Democratic politicians like Sebelius, and Louisiana governor Blanco before her, right to blame the Republican Bush administration for letting down the victims of these disasters? Absolutely. But to refer to the Iraq War – a war the Democrats have supported, with every action they have taken, to this day – is the worst kind of cynicism, not to mention a complete evasion of responsibility.

With or without the National Guard, there are certainly enough construction companies that own bulldozers, cranes, etc., not to mention companies that build such equipment. Why can’t the government, at the federal or state level, commandeer them to help its tax-paying citizens struck by disaster? Why can’t the government plan ahead for such disasters, warn residents ahead of time, evacuate them in orderly fashion in buses, trains, etc., before disaster strikes? Why can’t it set up decent accommodations for the victims after the disaster?

We know the government is perfectly capable of organizing any or all of these things, because it is capable of deploying hundreds of thousands of soldiers, along with all kinds of heavy equipment, anywhere in the world and accommodate them. But all that is for war – so that U.S. Big Business can dominate the world and make more profit.

To do the same thing here in the interests of the population would require a government that puts the population ahead of profit. Neither party does.