‘We’re all responsible for one another’

Darrell Dow: “Disaster Relief”

When we look down at this scene what would we see Jesus doing amidst the chaos and heartbreak? Can you see him standing at a shelter handing out food and blankets? Easily. In your mind’s eye is he healing the sick and comforting the frightened? Of course. Can you picture him opening the church doors and welcoming in people who need shelter? Without a doubt.

But can you even in your darkest imaginings think of him standing off to one side sermonizing about how it is these people or their parents who have sinned and brought this calamity to pass? Can you see him so completely paranoid of giving a “social gospel” that he is completely unprepared to offer anything in the way of help but moralistic platitudes? Can we in our wildest dreams imagine a self-righteous Christ waggling his finger in the faces of the homeless and hurting and telling them that what they really need is a heavenly home later instead of compassion right now.

Elizabeth Kaeton: “Saints and Hurricanes”

I expect churches to open their doors, providing warmth and companionship and food and an opportunity to recharge cell phones and lap tops to people. That’s a given. That’s the very least I expect from churches — to be the “sanctuary” they claim to be. No one gets any “brownie” points from me for doing the basic minimum requirements of what you claim to be all about in the first place.

And, I keep waiting to hear stories or see pictures of bishops, sleeves rolled up, handing out diapers or juice to inner city women who are stranded in their dark apartments or water and a hot meal to fragile elderly who are also cold and alone.

Nothing yet. I hope I’m not too terribly disappointed. …

At one church in Morristown, NJ, word of mouth has spread that the church has opened its doors to the community. Before anyone knew it, members of the church were coming to the church from their warm, safe homes, bringing food and blankets, some staying to cook and serve meals or occupy children with art projects, or just talk with those who are lonely or apprehensive.

One priest I know gathered up warm blankets and distributed them to parishioners and their neighbors, but then, she spent the night with one parishioner who was afraid and alone. I can’t imagine anything colder than being in a home or apartment without heat or electricity and being afraid and alone. Apparently, neither could this priest, so she did for her parishioner what she could only hope someone would do for her.

Chauncey DeVega: “Racial Framing and Superstorm Sandy: A Black Mother Begs for Help While Her Children Drown”

Glenda Moore’s loss of her two children is a horrible example of how implicit and subconscious racial bias can impact a white person’s level of empathy and sympathy towards African-Americans. A woman cried, begged, and screamed for help while her children drowned. A decision was made by a white neighborhood that this type of person, in that gendered body, with that skin color, was not worthy of assistance.

For 12 hours she pleaded for help. Her children died. Students of race and politics often discuss these matters in the abstract, and through examples grounded in a careful study of social and political institutions, as well as Power. The death of Glenda Moore’s children, and her treatment that evening by the people in that neighborhood, is an example of racial immorality on the most personal level.

Rachel Barenblatt: “Sodom and Gomorrah, Hurricane Sandy, and God”

Jewish tradition calls us to be the hands of God in caring for one another. To feed and clothe the widow and the orphan, those who are powerless. To permit the hungry to glean. On these matters, Torah’s voice rings clear.

And this is a test which the communities of Gomorrah and Sodom fail. Dramatically. Lot is unwilling to give up his two visitors, but he offers his daughters instead — a calculus I cannot imagine.

When and how are we complicit in pushing away the damage which our choices may create? Anyone would agree that it’s wrong to sacrifice one’s daughters to an angry mob, but does it seem okay to allow pollution to flow downriver to someone else’s town, or to allow the poorest to build their homes on flood plains or behind the levees which are in the weakest repair?

The tough news is that we’re all responsible for one another. The good news is that we’re all responsible for one another. There’s always something we can do.

  • http://vicwelle.wordpress.com victoria

    A quick shout out for the Occupy Sandy folks, who came up with the awesome idea to create a wedding registry on Amazon so that folks who want to donate can buy exactly the supplies that are needed, anything from diapers to shovels to portable generators:  
    http://www.amazon.com/registry/wedding/32TAA123PJR42

  • thomas

    It would be nice to see some evidence of neighbourly behaviour from the bishops, but I don’t know that working in the front line is the most helpful they could be.  In the same way, if I saw Bloomberg or Christie or Obama handing out blankets or cooking meals for storm survivors, I’d want to tell them to stop playing hero, get the fk back to their jobs and do something useful.  

  • Kadh2000

    My pastor opened the doors of our church as a place for those who went into the flooded areas to come out and rest somewhere high above the damage.  He lead a team of parishioners down into the city with whatever the people of the church had brought and handed them out under the direction of the Red Cross people downtown.  They also provided a lot of coffee and a lot of sandwiches, again made from whatever volunteer parishioners brought into the church to be made into food.  The Sunday sermons were kind of simple, but nobody complained.  This went on from the day after the flood until they were no longer needed downtown. 

    This was in Johnstown, PA in 1977, after the city flooded. 

    The pastor was most amazed to find himself, at one point, working alongside a player for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    This is all our church’s website says about the event: “Johnstown
    experiences another flood pressing the congregation into hosting
    over 200 volunteers who came to help clean up the city.”

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    “f I saw Bloomberg or Christie or Obama handing out blankets or cooking meals for storm survivors, I’d want to tell them to stop playing hero, get the fk back to their jobs and do something useful.  ”

    there is nothing more valuable in a crisis than doing the things you describe. and nothing more useless than playing at beaurocrat making up lists and handing out pieces of paper that peple can’t eat. well, technically they could but they wouldn’t want to.

  • EllieMurasaki

    So it is not at all important to have someone who is converting monetary donations to usable things and someone who is making sure that in-kind donations either don’t come or are divided into usable things and things that got donated so the donor would be rid of them? It’s not at all important to keep track of how many relief workers are in what areas so as to minimize redundancy and maximize coverage? There’s no purpose to administration at all?

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    there is nothing more valuable in a crisis than doing the things you describe.

    Oh, I dunno. Arranging for food to be delivered so someone can cook meals out of it seems pretty valuable, too.  Arranging for it to be stored somewhere on delivery so it can be distributed and doesn’t get lost/damaged/stolen/rotten, and for the people who intend to distribute it to know where it is, and all sorts of similar organizational tasks, can also be valuable.

    And sometimes those tasks involve making up lists. Lists are actually pretty useful tools for coordinating large-scale activities.

    If the most useful thing I can do is to cook someone a meal, great, I should do that and take pride in doing it well. It’s a valuable and necessary service. But there are plenty of other things that need doing as well, some of which are sometimes more valuable.

  • P J Evans

     Making sure the help is ready to go, before the disastrous storm actually arrives, matters.
    Making sure the cleanup funding is ready before the cleanup starts, matters.
    It might not be handing out blankets, but that’s part of the job of being president. (Also, the Obamas do help with handing out meals.)

  • Lori

     

    It would be nice to see some evidence of neighbourly behaviour from the
    bishops, but I don’t know that working in the front line is the most
    helpful they could be.  In the same way, if I saw Bloomberg or Christie
    or Obama handing out blankets or cooking meals for storm survivors, I’d
    want to tell them to stop playing hero, get the fk back to their jobs
    and do something useful.  

    In a crisis symbolic value is real value. As such it can be actually useful for people like  Bloomberg or Christie
    or Obama to be seen handing out relief supplies. It’s true though that most of their time should be spent on other things.  The old saying about helping is do only what you can do and what only you can do. Pretty much anyone who is willing can hand out blankets. The same is not true for coordinating aid from FEMA.

    I could see the same basic concept applying to the Bishops if there was any evidence that they were doing  big, behind the scenes work to get aid to people. Work that they are uniquely able to do by virtue of their control of Church coffers or ability to rally the folks in the pews. I haven’t seen any such thing. If you ask me to point to indications that Obama and Christie and Bloomberg are doing things to help, I can do that. When it comes to the bishops I’ve seen nothing. They long, long ago used up any benefit of the doubt about doing the right thing, so that lack of evidence strikes me as rather important.

  • http://vicwelle.wordpress.com victoria

    It’s not that the list-makers and paper shufflers are not important, it’s that they are the same level of important as the folks doing the direct aid.  But often they get more credit (or a heftier paycheck–i’m looking at you, Red Cross executives) than the folks who slog through the muck or pass out food and blankets.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Alexander/502988241 Alan Alexander

     The fact that you think that mayors, governors and even presidents do nothing useful in crises by virtue of their positions than “making up lists and handing out pieces of paper” demonstrates once again what a complete idiot you are.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrisalgoo Chris Algoo

     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQpc0QfBaMc

  • Albanaeon

    Ah, I see that you’ve decided to display your ignorance again.  Since you have no idea exactly how much organization and planning and all the other things those “useless bureaucrats” actually do, you feel free to degrade it.  Which, since everyday life, let alone crisis, pretty much run because a whole bunch of people do their jobs everyday is really sad.  And all they hear from ignoramuses like you is how they make your life sooo horrible.

    So how about you grow up a bit and show some respect.  Or at least put that ignorance away.  You’re embarrassing yourself.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Ellie- no there’s no use for any adminstration. Its bring your goods to market time. whatever you’ve got

  • EllieMurasaki

    Suppose the company you own has merged with another company. This latter company holds title to a piece of property that you now wish to sell. In the absence of state bureaucracy to keep track of what companies exist and in what status and what companies have become part of what other companies, in absence of state bureaucrats such as myself, how do you prove that you are legally entitled to sell that property?

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    Oh ffs, do you not understand supply chains?

    Every major nation has depended on written records to keep itself going. It could even be argued that the drop in literacy after the Western Roman Empire fell is associated with a regression in governance to more primitive forms of authoritarian leadership (aka, feudalism/manorialism).

    Even businesses depend on written records.

    Please, just shut the total fuck UP.

  • Greenygal

    “I need you to keep track of how much money people are donating so we
    know what we’ve got to purchase blankets, food, and other supplies.”
    “No.  Administration is useless.”
    “Um…maybe
    you could keep track of how many people and supplies we’ve sent out to
    various parts of the city, so we’re not sending everybody to a few
    places and ignoring the rest?”
    “Didn’t you hear me?  Administration
    is useless!  All that matters is that everybody  sends or brings whatever they’ve got to the area!  Where it can pile up because nobody’s keeping track of it or where it would be useful!” 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Alexander/502988241 Alan Alexander

     Forget it, Greenygal. You’re arguing with a Libertarian True Believer, i.e. someone who’s cult-like devotion to Libertarian dogma rivals that of the most earnest Taliban in intensity. I swear I would rather deal with people who had legitimate mental handicaps than people who have through sheer stubbornness devoted themselves to philosophies based on willful ignorance.

  • Tricksterson

    So, tell me, have you been doing any of these things?  If so, I aplaud you.

  • Mary Kaye

    My neighborhood sits on an earthquake fault, so several years ago (before the recession, when funding was available) we had an earthquake response coordinator work through plans with us.  We have people who are supposed to go door to door looking for injured folks and gas leaks.  We also have people who are supposed to sit at the central  meet point and do administration–tracking which blocks have been checked already, organizing supplies, helping people find lost family members.  And we have people–for no apparent reason I’m in this group–who are supposed to find out if there are emergencies our neighborhood can’t handle, and then run this information, on foot, to a regional ham-radio center or to the local hospital.  And we have people who are supposed to pack up their radios and go to the ham-radio center and sit all day sending messages.

    It’s all part of a working disaster relief effort.  If we got rid of everyone but the door-to-door teams they would recheck the same areas or miss whole blocks, and they wouldn’t get the bandages and stretchers and fire extinguishers they need.  Their work is the most dramatic but other parts are equally important.

  • Tricksterson

    Not sure I’d call him a libertarian, more an anarcho capitalist.  Libertarians do believe in some degree of government and many are willing to admit that the rules (or rather the lack thereof) can be suspended in case of emergency.  Yes, I know it will come as a shock but not all libertarians march in lockstep.

  • P J Evans

     Read it again, beckwit.
    I said that was stuff that should be done BEFORE THE DISASTER HAPPENS. And that that’s their job.

    Reading comprehension failure.

  • P J Evans

     Well, he does pretend he’s a libertarian, at least to the extent of using their dogwhistles.

  • AliciaB

     Well, yeah, if not all libertarians march in lockstep then isn’t it fair to say that some people can be libertarians like the ones you describe and others can be… total unthinking morons?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Ellie- I suppose there may be some need for some sort of as hoc administration but ad hoc only! Ad Hoc Nation!!

    Look we’re getting bogged down in details here. if you were marooned on a desert island would you form a comittee? of course not, you would simply SURVIVE as best you could relying on yourself and, with any luck, the community of people you were with. 
    If people here have some advanced knowledge of disaster stuff I will give you that. My point was that a mayor or even president helping another human being is not wasting time or not being useful. 

    From what I’ve seen the bulk of the effort taking place in NYC is volunteers helping people. Certainly someone needs to tell them what to do, at least at first.  

    I don’t think they are badly in need of someone to give speeches to people or to go on TV reassuring people about stuff. People need food, diapers, stuff like that. 

    If President Obama goes to Staten Island and hands someone some food it will likely be more productive than most of the stuff he normally does meeting conniving diplomats and signing ridiculous bills.

    The lady on Democracy Now in Far Rockaway said they simply told people who called to go buy their own cleaning stuff and come down and use it. It’s not overly complicated. 

    Ellie – enforcing contracts and so forth is not generally part of these sorts of emergencies. If the govt does have a role it is certainly that though. 

  • EllieMurasaki

    You said all administration should evaporate. I’m just trying to figure out what the fuck you meant, because I assure you the free market would fall in around your ears if all administration evaporated.

    Oh, hey. A little bit ago I was at a stoplight behind someone in a white Ford pickup with two bumper stickers. One said ‘global warming, a dangerous manmade phenomenon caused by Marxism and junk science’, or words to that effect. The other one said ‘Gary Johnson’. Was that you?

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Ellie- yes that was me. 

    Look I was a little flippant but I don’t like the idea that an ” important” person is wasting their somehow more valuable time by doing common peoples work when they could be administrating. 

    from Daves quote

    “Oh, I dunno. Arranging for food to be delivered so someone can cook meals out of it seems pretty valuable, too.  Arranging for it to be stored somewhere on delivery so it can be distributed and doesn’t get lost/damaged/stolen/rotten, and for the people who intend to distribute it to know where it is, and all sorts of similar organizational tasks, can also be valuable.”

    I don’t disagree with this but isn’t

    1. the bulk of the work going to be cooking, distributing etc? frickin store it wherever. eat it so you don’t have to store it. 

    2. isn’t the division of labor, an idea I obvously support, a little ridiculous in an emergency situation? Do we need someone who can make a perfect chocolate mousse to cook a ton of spaghetti? or someone with excellent sales skills to hand out donuts? 

  • Greenygal

    Look we’re getting bogged down in details here. if you were marooned on a
    desert island would you form a comittee? of course not, you would
    simply SURVIVE as best you could relying on yourself and, with any luck,
    the community of people you were with.

    If I’m
    stranded on a desert island, is it okay
    if the other survivors and I discuss what our resources are, what
    skills we have, whether we need to stay by the beach if we want to be
    found, what needs to be done right now, and which people are responsible for what?  I
    mean, I would have thought that was sensible planning, but maybe it’s
    actually forming a committee, and that’s not SURVIVING.   Maybe it’s
    only SURVIVING if everyone charges off in separate directions without
    speaking.

    (What desert islands have to do with relief efforts in a
    major city which is not cut off from the rest of the country is beyond
    me, but you seem to think it’s relevant somehow.)

  • EllieMurasaki

    Speaking as someone who has volunteered at a food bank: with that attitude, don’t ever volunteer at a food bank. The administration is vital. And a food bank is kind of lower pressure than a hurricane relief effort.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

    WRT your responses to my comment…

    > isn’t the bulk of the work going to be cooking, distributing etc?

    Maybe? I don’t know. Even if it is, I don’t consider that a good reason to insult and dismiss the folks doing the other stuff.

    > frickin store it wherever. eat it so you don’t have to store it.

    This turns out not to be the case.

    > isn’t the division of labor, an idea I obvously support, a little ridiculous in an emergency situation?

    No, not at all.

    > Do we need someone who can make a perfect chocolate mousse to cook a ton
    of spaghetti? or someone with excellent sales skills to hand out
    donuts?

    Nope, we don’t need either of those things. Why do you bring them up?

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Go do your homework then get to bed. Growing boys need their sleep!

  • http://www.facebook.com/marchantshapiro Andrew Abrams Marchant-Shapiro

     I am sometimes not proud to be a Mormon.  There are lots of things wrong with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  But this past week I have been proud to be LDS.

    Our ward is about 15 minutes from Milford, one of the hardest-hit sections of the Connecticut coastline.  Last Friday, the bishop sent out word that we were going to go help.  Around a hundred people showed up; that evening, word went out that church would be early, and only one of the three normal meetings would be held.  We were to attend in warm grubbies and bring shovels, rakes, and implements of destruction.  We worked all day Sunday.  It was Fast Sunday, and all I could think of was Isaiah 58:3, ”
    “Is
    not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of
    injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and
    break every yoke?”

    Today, more than 200 missionaries from the NE area showed up and coordinated with ~100 ward members to help with the cleanup.

    I have seen bishops with chainsaws and members of all ages with shovels and crowbars. 

    This is the gospel.  Period.

  • http://jamoche.dreamwidth.org/ Jamoche

    Arranging for it to be stored somewhere on delivery so it can be distributed and doesn’t get lost/damaged/stolen/rotten, and for the people who intend to distribute it to know where it is, and all sorts of similar organizational tasks, can also be valuable.

    I’ve heard that bad quartermasters are to blame for as many lost battles as generals are; I’m sure the same principle applies to disaster relief.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alan-Alexander/502988241 Alan Alexander

     If President Obama goes to Staten Island and hands someone some food it
    will likely be more productive than most of the stuff he normally does
    meeting conniving diplomats and signing ridiculous bills.

    God, just LEAVE! You hate our democracy. You hate our society. You hate our civilization. You hate everything about America except for the fact that it allows you the luxury to spend all day on the Internet trolling people with your asinine and feeble-minded “philosophy.” You can’t possibly be holding a job that requires you to interact with other human beings. Anyone who shared an office with you for ten minutes would surely despise you as much as I do from reading your anarchist drivel here. Go to Somalia! You’d love it there. Or better yet, a deserted island with no one else with whom you’d be forced to form some awful, unendurable “society.”

    Oh, and btw. President Obama is going to be spending the next four years doing all sorts of “stuff” that will hopefully rebuild our nation from the damage inflicted on it by Libertarian wankers like you. I hope you choke on it.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/jrandyowens Randy Owens

    I’ll take “fallacies” for $200, Alex.

    Look we’re getting bogged down in details here. if you were marooned on a desert island would you form a comittee? of course not, you would simply SURVIVE as best you could relying on yourself and, with any luck, the community of people you were with.

    What is “fallacy of composition”?

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     

    Look we’re getting bogged down in details here. if you were marooned on a
    desert island would you form a comittee? of course not, you would
    simply SURVIVE as best you could relying on yourself and, with any luck,
    the community of people you were with.

    Spoken like the guy we’d eat first.

    but seriously, no you wouldn’t. Survive as best you could, that is. You’d die. That’s the overwhelmingly more likely scenario.

    That’s why we invented governments. Because before we had them, the overwhelming likelihood was that you’d die. Quickly. And unpleasantly.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    “President Obama is going to be spending the next four years doing all sorts of “stuff” that will hopefully rebuild our nation from the damage inflicted on it by Libertarian wankers like you”

    Yeah remember when Ron Paul bought all those deriratives and we had to bail him out?  

    Dave- the point was Chris Christie and Barack Obama are not above doing menial work. We aren’t an elitist society. We believe in the division of labor because it’s good that people can be plumbers or executives or basketball players. However, those 3 types of people are the same when it comes to a disaster.

    I saw some of this thinking in the thread about the church that set up the lending program for the poor. People were saying the government should do it on a massive scale.  I say forget the government exists, do the program and let is spread organically.   Barack Obama is a public servant, let him serve the public literally.  

    I know a guy who is a quasi hipster celeb in NYC and his letting people know where and when he was going to be helping out no doubt brought a couple of his weird fans out so theres that too. 

    I understand that administration is needed.  I’m not arguing for some kind of libertarian organizational structure for non profit groups or something.

  • http://twitter.com/lesterhalfjr Chris Hadrick

    Ross- you’ve got it backwards. We started out with governments. People worshipped the Pharoah like a god and based their entire miserable paranoid lives around him.  

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Discovery-Freedom-Struggle-Authority/dp/0930073002

  • P J Evans

     Governments come when you have too many people to hold votes on everything. Which means governments have been around since there have been villages…at least ten thousand years.
    Pharaohs are late.

    Also, where the fuck do you get your idea that the Egyptians were miserable and paranoid?

  • Tricksterson

    Sorry but that sounded exactly like what you were arguing for.

  • Lori

    I suppose there may be some need for some sort of as hoc administration but ad hoc only! Ad Hoc Nation!!  

    How old are you?

    Look we’re getting bogged down in details here. 

    Sure. Getting supplies where they need to be instead of allowing a free for all that  piles up things in places that they’re not needed while allowing other places in desperate need to do without is a detail.

    I’m rolling my eyes at you so hard . After all this time hanging around here why, oh why have you not learned to think things through?

    if you were marooned on a
    desert island would you form a comittee? of course not, you would
    simply SURVIVE as best you could relying on yourself and, with any luck,
    the community of people you were with. 

    The committee you are so quick to deride would help you SURVIVE, you idiot. That stuff that Mary Kaye’s neighborhood did to prepare for an earthquake? That’s the kind of stuff you’d need to organize right quick on Gilligan’s Island and a committee is an excellent way to do that. People running around willy nilly, doing whatever strikes them would not tend to lead to a good outcome. Organizing is how you go about relying on each other.

    I don’t think they are badly in need of someone to give speeches to
    people or to go on TV reassuring people about stuff. People need food,
    diapers, stuff like that.

    Once again you demonstrate that you have never experienced a real emergency. People do need comfort and reassurance. That’s especially true in the immediate aftermath when people are trying to get their bearings.

    You know nothing about this, so you really need to stop talking about it.

    From what I’ve seen the bulk of the effort taking place in NYC is
    volunteers helping people. Certainly someone needs to tell them what to
    do, at least at first.

    What evidence do you have that what you’ve seen is a representative sample of what is happening? Has it occurred to you that a bunch of volunteers provide a better human interest angle than people doing their jobs, and that the volunteers are therefore more likely to get press?

    Have you considered the effect of the fact that much of the volunteer effort has been organized on social media? That means that it’s  highly visible and public, and also provides another opportunity for the press to do a gee whiz story about that there twitter thingy all the kids are doing now days.  In contrast, the professional effort is handled via the usual office means of communication (email, phone, etc). That means it’s not so public and no one thinks there’s any gee whiz factor in watching folks answer their phones and respond to email.

    Have you considered that at least one of the groups doing a major volunteer push has a very strong motivation for making sure that it gets press for its efforts? Occupy Sandy is doing great work, and I take nothing away from them and I’m not suggesting that they’re being opportunistic. That said, they have good reason to want to make sure that their efforts are visible. Good on them, but that does effect what you see, especially if you’re getting most of your information online. That goes double if you’re getting most of your information from social media.

  • Lori

     

    1. the bulk of the work going to be cooking, distributing etc? frickin store it wherever.

    Well sure. Frickin’ store it wherever. Because giving people food poisoning is so helpful.

    eat it so you don’t have to store it.  

    Human beings do not store food the way camels store water. They need to be fed relatively small amounts fairly frequently. “Here’s a week’s worth of food. Eat it now before it goes bad” is not helpful.

    2. isn’t the division of labor, an idea I obvously support, a little
    ridiculous in an emergency situation?

    No you idiot, it is not.

    Do we need someone who can make a
    perfect chocolate mousse to cook a ton of spaghetti? or someone with
    excellent sales skills to hand out donuts?  

    What you need is a person with enough relevant skills not to need constant supervision and instruction in order to get the job done. That’s division of labor.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    Chris Christie and Barack Obama are not above doing menial work [..]  I say forget the government exists, do the program and let is spread organically.   Barack Obama is a public servant, let him serve the public literally. 

    Just to make sure I understand you… are you asserting that the world in which Barack Obama spends the next week in a soup kitchen in Bayonne has fewer hungry people in it than the world in which Barack Obama spends the next week in the White House?

  • Lori

     

    Spoken like the guy we’d eat first.   

    Nah, too stringy.

  • http://dumas1.livejournal.com/ Winter

    In an emergency, information will be on the long list of things in short supply. With transportation and communication lines (roads, phone lines, anything that needs electricity) likely to be cut, volunteers and residents on the spot can only see a very small part of the picture. Having a central point where everyone reports what they see, and which can give out orders, is necessary to ensure that no part of the area is overlooked and that relief supplies are distributed as widely and equitably as possible.

    If you’re in good physical condition and conditions allow, try walking a mile square. On good pavement, this will likely take a couple hours. Look at how many houses or commercial buildings are there just on the perimeter. Now think about what’s on the inside of the square and how long it would take for a handful of people to search each and every building there with downed trees and power lines, flooding, and everything else, and how likely they are to overlook something if there’s no plan and no one in charge. Then think about getting food and supplies to people who need it, and evacuating the injured. Now consider that this one square mile would only be a very very tiny part of the area affected by a major disaster.

    Do you still think administrators and rear echelon people are useless? Do you think that uncoordinated efforts by random volunteers can be adequate for any significant length of time, with the level of thoroughness that an administrative structure can bring?

  • Lori

    After Hurricane Hugo there was a tiny little town, rather off the beaten track, that didn’t get any relief supplies for days—–because everyone outside forgot it existed. It wasn’t on most of the state maps (that small) and there was no one whose job it was to remember those people. The townspeople couldn’t drive out for supplies because their road was washed out and they couldn’t call out because the phone lines were down. Initially they assumed that help would be along presently. After a few days things were getting dire and they realized they’d have to be a bit more proactive so they sent a couple teenage boys to hike out to highway and flag down some help. Once that happened they got supplies and assistance and volunteers, but they had an unnecessarily lousy few days. That’s the kind of thing that happens when you don’t have quite enough administration.

  • http://apocalypsereview.wordpress.com/ Invisible Neutrino

    If you’re in good physical condition and conditions allow, try walking a mile square.

    Like Buck in Manhattan… ;-)

    (Sorry, Chris’s Taking a Level in WTFery is just so irritating I need to introduce tangential levity.)

  • Greenygal

    Dave- the point was Chris Christie and Barack Obama are not above doing
    menial work. We aren’t an elitist society. We believe in the division of
    labor because it’s good that people can be plumbers or executives or
    basketball players. However, those 3 types of people are the same when
    it comes to a disaster.

    On the faint off-chance that you actually think this is the issue… The point is not that they’re above doing the work.  They’re not.  I’m pretty sure that no one here thinks this is the case.  The point is that state governors and the president of the country have the authorization and resources (and the responsibility) to get things done that the rest of us can’t.  Other relief workers can do the–very important!–job of handing out blankets and soup just as well as Obama can, but they can’t, for example, give orders to the National Guard.  Which is also kind of helpful.

    –and this of course is where you complain that there is nothing more important than blankets and soup, and government is useless so Obama is by definition not doing anything important anyway.  (Even though you finally acknowledged that administration is needed in a disaster, I’m sure that doesn’t apply if the government is doing it.)   But maybe you could acknowledge that when we say “we want the president to do his job, not hand out soup”, it’s because we are under the no doubt foolish delusion that the president has a great deal of power and we would prefer he use that power to help fix the situation.

  • BaseDeltaZero

    I know a guy who is a quasi hipster celeb in NYC and his letting people know where and when he was going to be helping out no doubt brought a couple of his weird fans out so theres that too. 

    The weird hipster fans then proceed to congregate, doing little, while they could be doing something useful somewhere else.

    Seriously. ‘We don’t need any organization, ever, we’ll just arrange things organically!’

    Is it possible this guy is secretly an Ork?

    but they can’t, for example, give orders to the National Guard.

    Well, they could, theoretically.  But the idea is that leaders in a democracy are chosen based on who the people believe will give the best orders, and are then therefore given the authority to make those orders… but authority is not an innate characteristic, it is just part of the job.

  • Isabel C.

    Why, *why* do I want to suggest watching an episode of “My Little Pony”, the one with the getting-ready-for-spring plot? I mean, it’s relevant, and Spanky here sounds like he’s about at the kids’ show level of comprehension, but…damn, my reputation’s going to take a hit from this. ;)


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