Friday, September 16, 2005

You Are On Your Own


You are on your own. Your government doesn't care about you. Now, if you have an income, your government cares about taxing it. Yes, if you are a politically active member of a politically valuable demographic, your government cares about periodically getting your vote. But don't be a fool, your government doesn't care about you. Or your family. Or friends. Or property.
"Hello, I'm trying to find out the status of my mother's claim."
"I'm sorry, you've reached the line that's for taking new claims only. You have to call the Help Desk at this other number, they handle existing claims."
"That's the number I called, and got you."
"Oh. Well, maybe because of the volume of calls you got bumped over here, you'll have to hang up and call that number again, or log on to the website."
"You realize we have no home, no phone lines, and thus no access to the web, yes? And that the only reason I'm able to call on behalf of my mother is that I'm fortunate enough to have a cell phone, yes?
"I'm sorry, sir. I really wish I could help you, I'm just at the call center."
And that's how it works. Your government is a mandarin class of tan Docker-clad elites, shuttling in SUVs from anonymous office parks to anonymous exurbs, windows rolled up, AC on full blast, Amy Grant on the CD changer. They insulate themselves from contact with the public, who they theoretically work for, with a phalanx of minimum-wage call center operators, and mega-tiered automated voicemail prompts and Byzantine organizational structures. You will never ever be able to talk with a person who can make any decision to help you. You will only hear "No", or maybe, if the drone you're in contact with still has some residual soul, you'll hear "I'm so sorry, I wish I could help, but I'm not authorized."

FEMA is doing nothing for the victims of Katrina. FEMA is nowhere near here. Official-looking FEMA shirts and hats are everywhere, worn on the backs and heads of earnest-looking sunburnt middle-aged men, often with moustaches and Oakleys. Imagine a fly-fisher, now put a navy blue FEMA shirt on him. But you soon realize that it's only a shirt. These are just drones. Dispatched by the mandarins to appear caring. These are usually local volunteers given two hours training and that official FEMA gear, and sent out to give people the 800 number by which you can file a new claim.

That's it. An 800 number. A mega-tiered, bilingual, automated, never-answered-by-anyone-who-can-think 800 number. That's how much your government cares about you. That's what the earnest volunteer blue shirts can help you with. When they realize you need more than an 800 number, their moustaches droop a little, crestfallen, impotent, and they give you some inside information. "Look for the red shirts, those are the actual FEMA guys."

I haven't seen any red shirts. Maybe they're the ones that have occupied all the motel rooms within 400 miles. The motel rooms with AC and cable and phones and internet and Amy Grant on the CD changer.

That picture above was taken on the morning of 9/11. Last Sunday. On the right is the little tent where the earnest blue shirts have set up their six laptops to take new FEMA claims. On the left is the beginning of the line of victims waiting for help. The first twenty feet of the line had shade from the 100 degree baking sun. By ten o'clock the line stretched all the way across the Kmart parking lot. The old guy on the middle-right, seated, with the oxygen tank, he had been there since 5:45. Behind him to the right? You see that guy with his hands up near his head, in a cartoon pose of exasperation and impotence? That's one of the earnest blue shirts.

You are on your own. My advice to you: have lots of private insurance for everything. Have fresh water on hand. Batteries and gas lamps. A generator. MREs and Powerbars. Plenty of cash. A gun, preferably a 12-gauge shotgun. Know how to use it, it will be worth it's weight in gold. It doesn't matter how the destruction will come. Hurricane. War. Terrorism. But when it comes, know that you are on your own.

You are always on your own. The government takes care of itself, not its citizens.

17 comments:

clayton cubitt said...

If Bush remakes New Orleans in his own image, will it look like Houston?

posted by: siege on 9/20/2005 1:04:29 AM

----

Siege: I have told my wife for the last 5 years that George Bush leads the YOYO administration.

You are On Your Own.

Fucking A.

Stay strong.

posted by: roadkit on 9/16/2005 4:17:23 PM

Julie said...

I think Bush already made New Orleans in his image--looks like hell to me.

Anonymous said...

Recent experience, not in a disaster zone: a government office with no parking spaces nearby for visitors...

It's one you go to for a medical examination for disability benefit.

God have no mercy said...

" Julie said...

I think Bush already made New Orleans in his image--looks like hell to me."

Yeah, that's right, it's all Bush's fault, it's not like a Level 5 hurricane has anything do to with it.

Do you know what kind of man power it takes to rebuild a city? You expect the government to just roll in and restore everything in pristine condition? You expect FEMA to undo an Act of God? Maybe Bush should just wave his hand like Moses and part the flood water.

Give them some time, have a little faith, just like faith in a God that decides to drown New Orleans. Why give the call center a hard time? The 800 number is busy helping other people who are just as desperate as you are. Complaining is not going to get your claim through any faster, you just clog up the line for the next guy.

What right do you have to beg the government for help, if you took no personal responsibility to protect your own family by buying insurance to protect your property, and having some basic emergency supplies on hand?

Why should you blame the government for not being able to take care of yourself?

clayton cubitt said...

God have no mercy (lovely name, BTW)

Put simply:
Bring your attitude down there, I'd love to introduce you to some people who'd be very interested in hearing what you have to say. Just remember, as you're snarking, don't expect the cavalry to come in and rescue you if some people react, well, strongly.

Those people wating in line in the heat, those big rednecks, they'd love to show you some personal responsibility.

Keyboard toughguy.

Anonymous said...

bravo...

my home is no more. your journal is the first thing that i have seen that actually means something to many that i know form this area.

ps- bush has not done shit in the new orleans area. the people who had nothing to begin with are making out beeter than those who have worked there entire lives to get where they are at. because, it doesn't amtter how much insurance you have, it will never pay for everything that was lost.

Six said...

Hey, you win! Now, to where can I send the award for the most ignorant, insensitive, heartless, stupid, moronic comment I've ever read on ANY blog (and trust me, I've read MANY) about the VICTIMS of Hurricane Katrina?

>What right do you have to beg the >government for help, if you took no >personal responsibility to protect >your own family by buying insurance >to protect your property, and having >some basic emergency supplies on >hand?

>Why should you blame the government >for not being able to take care of >yourself?

Rialle said...

What do you think we pay taxes for? Why was 9/11 so close to home that the governemt and the US rushed to help, but here, these peope are left in the rain? If I had the money or the strength to do so, I would take the place of those thousands of people left out in the rain while the government said they were donating money. Let me tell you this from experience: sometimes it's not money you need when you're in pain.

Anonymous said...

"protect your own family by buying insurance to protect your property"..... do you know how much insurance costs dick head? or do you just have your accountant sort it from your trust fund? Not everone can afford insurance, and its geared to ensure the poor stay poor. Insurance or food... hmm lets think about it.

Lucanos said...

"God have no mercy"

Step the f**k back.
People are upset, understandably. Why are they upset with the government? Because they have displayed such incompetence and ignorance to issues in some of the storm-affected areas that alot of the destruction suffered by people, the loss of life and property, could have been reduced or avoided.

"What right do you have to beg the government for help, if you took no personal responsibility to protect your own family by buying insurance to protect your property, and having some basic emergency supplies on hand?"

The government is meant to help! They are meant to provide assistance, command, control, supplies, transport, all those services which are so sorely lacking even now so long after the disaster.
Do you also suggest that eferyone get their own pistol and lynching rope so we don't have to rely on the government to generously provide a justice and law enforcement service?

I think that the people affected by the storm have every right to be asking for more than what they have recieved so far. God knows that what they need is even more than what they have asked for.

Just know that Karma has an IOU with your name on it.

Clayton

We have your back.
'Nuff said.

everday joe said...

Why do ignorant people always blame the victims when things go wrong?
'It's their fault for not having supplies, they weren't prepared' (never mind that the gov't was warned that this would happen to N.O. years ago, and they did nothing because their priority is to fund a war). Just like that, we remove any responsibility from ourselves and our gov't and place it squarely on the victims. Does anybody care about anyone but themselves anymore?

Gerard said...

God have no mercy...
My house is also gone and I like many others have had to burn up financial resources. The government of one of the richest countries in the world can afford to send aid to countries whose population do not pay taxes in the united states. Here is my website:
http://www.katrinasurvivorla.com
Read my story. That is how I got out of the storm and know that my website is taking donations because I'll go bankrupt waiting for ANY assistance from the govern ment. Until you've been down here and see what people are still dealing with you need to roll up the window on your SUV, turn the A/C on full blast, play your Amy Grant CD and shut the blank up.

TSEYMOUR said...

I LIVED IN THE PASS BEFORE KATRINA AND AM LIVING INA FEMA CAMPER IN BSL NOW - I CAN TELL YOU I SPENT HOURS IN LINE AT WINN DIXIE AND WALMART GETTING SUPPLIES SO WE WOULD BE PREPARED AFTER THE STORM FOR NO ELECTRICITY ETC...

ALL OF MY FUCKING SUPPLIES WERE WASHED AWAY ALONG WITH MY HOUSE DUMB ASS - I WAS PREPARED... JUST NOT PREPARED TO NOT HAVE A HOUSE STANDING WHEN I RETURNED.

GOD SOME PEOPLE ARE SO FUCKING HOLIER THAN THOU - I CANT BELIEVE THEY SIT THERE IN THEIR HOMES WITH ALL OF THEIR BELONGINGS TELLING US HOW TO HANDLE A HURRICANE AND HOW TO PREPARE!! WE KNOW HOW TO PREPARE FOR A HURRICANE - NO ONE KNEW HOW TO PREPARE FOR KATRINA - NOT EVEN THE GOVT

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember when there was a time that we did take care of ourselves after a disaster. I seem to remember stocking up and getting ready when a storm was coming. I remember being told to get out of the way and we did. We didn't ask for government help, we were expected to take care of ourselves and we did.
You people scream we have too much government, ever think about some of the reasons why?
Get off your whining butts and learn how to take care of yourselves instead of living off the hard working people of this nation. I have never set around waiting for someone to help me or give me a check. I got off my butt and got it done.
Help is one thing, living off the system is another, expecting the system to literally take care of every facet of your life you don't consider "private" or "you own business" is something so common in our nation today we should all be ashamed!

clayton cubitt said...

Anonymous (you're always anonymous aren't you?)-

I'm very proud of your self-reliance. Very impressive. Prove it. Show us all how self-reliant you are. Who are you? What's your business? Where do you live? How old are you? What's your education level? What about your parents?

Right now, you're just anonymous words. Hot air. Put up, or shut up.

NJ said...

I went down on my winter break from college to help rebuild a few homes....two years after the hurricane. And people still needed help. I would have gone earlier but they wouldn't take volunteers under 18. I'm sure they still need help anonymous, so if your done having your selfish day, they would gladly welcome you with open, loving arms.

Richard said...

I'm not even from the US. I can't remember how I found this page. But my feelings still go out for you.
I don't know the full extent of the appalling treatment that's gone on in New Orleans, only via news media - but it sickens me to think what's happened/happening. A good point someone raised- 9/11 got cleared up pretty fucking quick.
So much ignorance.