Monday, May 03, 2010

The Need to Blame

The weekend’s news brought stories of how the Gulf oil spill is the equivalent of Hurricane Katrina with respect to the government’s failure to cope.

There seem to be two aspects to dealing with catastrophes: prevention and response. We always assign blame for failings in either.

To put the two more recent events and blame for them, in context, Bush didn’t get much flack over the response to 9/11. Why?

Let’s compare and contrast.

9/11 was a “man-made” event, the result of terrorism and our failure to anticipate and prevent it. Katrina’s devastation was a combination of an act of God and human failure (the levees). The oil spill appears to be the result of human failure; Obama is doing his darnedest to draw attention to BP’s culpability for it. Bush deflected any blame for 9/11 on the part of the U.S. Government to anticipate and prevent by focusing our attention on Al Qaeda; but, he didn’t have a convenient terrorist group when it came to Katrina. He, the Corps of Engineers, FEMA and Brownie took the necessary fall.

There was no plan to deal with the severity of any of the three events. Obama seems to be running a better PR effort for the oil spill than did Bush with Katrina. Neither dealt with the aftermath of 9/11 very well in the larger context of stopping terrorism and foreign adventurism; but, over time the need to blame lessens as other events overtakes us.

We humans need devils to blame for things that a benevolent god wouldn’t do to us. Our politicians know this and provide them for us. What they don’t do is take the lessons presented by catastrophes and apply them going forward. A case in point, the financial meltdown of the last couple of years. Who’s to blame? Greedy, rapacious banks. What’s being done about them? Little or nothing. But don’t blame our “leaders” entirely. We taught them to show us a devil or two and things would be OK until the next time.


Anonymous said...

My potential sister-in-law's house in Tennessee was flooded during the recent storms, and she knows exactly who to blame: her neighbors- because all of the water in her yard is runoff from their yards.

Having someone to blame seems to be something some people need, but it never really helped me any. Sometimes things just suck and that's just the way it is.

Sonja's Mom said...

Amen Thomas. Response time is never quick enough in any disaster if your the one being affected by it.

Jenn said...

Thomas - we are in the same boat as your sister in law. Our problem comes about where the neighbor covered the creek in his front yard and took the covert out of his driveway. LOL. Which make a pretty 20 foot water fall over ours and flooded our creek... which in turn took out our driveway. LOL. BUT... I look at it like this, even if he left his creek alone, we'd have had damage from our end of the creek. However... we wouldn't have all the gravel from his driveway in OUR YARD. Got a shovel?

Dave - meant Ben Franklin on my other reference... I think I used T.Edison.

As far as having someone to blame in crisis... we'd all love to point a finger but the fact is above. We expected weather damage. It was inconvenient that our neighbors actions contributed to it but that is beyond our control. And that what it comes to, things beyond our control are accidents and people just need to let accidents go and move forward. It will be costly.

Thomas - pic's on my blog of the local damage (Not the stuff in Nashvegas, you want the View thru my eyes off of my blogger profile if you look.