America's War on Poverty
Let's start with some statistics, to set the stage, so to speak.
-According to the 2003 census: 21% of the population of New Orleans live below the povert level. Now, the povert level is fluid, depending on the number of household members. Let's assume a family of four: $18,850 per year. Let's divide that further-it works out to $1570/month. Average rent for a three bedroom apartment in New Orleans: $1000. So, we have $570/left to pay for food, transportation, utilities. Assume you are feeding 2-3 children. Conservatively, you will spend $400/month on groceries. We're down to $170 for utilities. That about covers it. So, you have no money left to pay for a bus out of town. Especially if it's the end of the month. And, about 25% of the working population does not own a car.
Okay, statistics get boring. Now lets get down to it.
A mandatory evacuation order was passed in New Orleans. But, there was no assistance in evacuation. So, if you own a car or had the cash for a bus ticket, sure you could get out. If not, the evacuation order was meaningless. The only thing you could do was make your way to the Superdome, which was supposed to be the city's main shelter. And, we all now how that turned out.
Now, imagine that you are a hospital patient. The decision to evacuate is out of your hands. If you have insurance and are lucky enough to be in a private hospital, you are in luck. By now, you have been evacuated. If you don't have insurance and are at Charity Hospital, the public one, you are still waiting.
Refugees at the Superdome were halted in their evacuation-to allow the people who had been staying in the Hyatt to evacuate. Quoted from MSNBC.com:
“ 'How does this work? They (are) clean, they are dry, they get out ahead of us? ' exclaimed Howard Blue, 22, who tried to get in their line. The National Guard blocked him as other guardsmen helped the well-dressed guests with their luggage.
The 700 had been trapped in the hotel, near the Superdome, but conditions were considerably cleaner, even without running water, than the unsanitary crush inside the dome. "
Really, what are we to think? Is it truly a coincidence that the poor are given lowest priority in care and evacuation. Our country is truly grievous.