Reporter's Note: The President wants idea from normal Americans on how to run the country. In fairness, most normal Americans don’t spend a lot of time writing letters to the leader of the free world. Still, community service is a worthwhile goal, so I continue my effort to write a letter a day to the White House, no matter how abnormal that may be.
Tom Foreman | Bio
Dear Mr. President,
You may have noticed that my trip to New Orleans this week put me on something of a tear about my love for that city, and while I don’t want to beat the topic to death, there is a little matter which has been troubling me on that front for some time.
One of the most pointed complaints I heard right after Katrina and continue to hear to this day from folks outside of the city goes like this: If people are stupid enough to build in a place that can be flooded, they deserve what they get and the rest of us should do nothing to help them when disaster strikes. It’s their problem.
I think such blanket statements about what happened in Louisiana belie an oversimplification that seems not merely harsh, but unreasonable. Because based on the logic of “it’s their problem,” much of America should rightfully be abandoned.
Under this argument, one could say that when terrorists hit New York we not only should have discouraged rebuilding, but also should have ordered the dispersal out of populations from every major city in the country on grounds that they present attractive targets. Manhattan is even an island, for crying out loud!
When wildfires sweep the west and homes are lost, we could argue that any town in an area with less than a given amount of rainfall each year must be shuttered and left to the elements. After all, our tax money should not be spent sending firefighters to protect them.
Los Angeles? San Francisco? Heck all of California…earthquake zone! Empty it out, shut it down.
The Midwest? Tornado alley. Move them out.
The South? Sunstroke, mosquito borne illnesses, and Jeff Foxworthy tours.
The North? Blizzards, lukewarm iced tea, and an unnatural interest in figure skating.
See? If we say anyone who lives in a place with inherent risks deserves no help when disaster strikes then the whole country is going to be converging on…oh say, Chattanooga in the near future. That seems like a safe place.
But here is something else: If we appreciate all the goods that flow through a great port city like New Orleans, (and trust me…if you stick out a hand right now, there is a good chance it will land on something that came, at least in part, up the Mississippi at some point) then we better take seriously the needs of the people who populate that place when hard times come. Same for everything that comes from any place where disaster may strike sometime in the future. And experience has taught us, that is everywhere.
Hope your weekend is going well. I’m running around a pretty good bit, so use my cell number if you want to call.
Find more of the Foreman Letters, here.
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