Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Katrina Victims Lose Their Luster

The Wall Street Journal (p A12, 13SEP05) reports that a bus carrying about four dozen Katrina evacuees from the New Orleans Superdome crashed on Interstate 49 near Opelousas, Louisiana when one of the evacuees attacked the driver. The driver lost control of the bus, which swerved across the median into oncoming traffic, finally flipping to land on its side on an exit ramp. One man, James Green, 51, was killed when he was thrown from the bus and crushed. Seventeen people were injured, including one man whose arm was severed.

The attacker had demanded that the driver stop the bus so he could smoke a cigarette. There was no smoking on the bus. When the driver responded that the bus could not stop because it was part of a convoy, the man assaulted him. The attacker was treated and released from a local hospital.

Katrina evacuee Glenn Holloway repaid his hosts in Fort Worth, where he was put up in a shelter, by attempting to kidnap a 14 year old high school freshman walking home from school for the usual reasons. He's in jail now. To be fair, it sounds like he was a former mental patient off his meds, but that probably won't cut much ice with the girl's parents.

Meanwhile, employees at the Houston Galleria shopping mall are not happy to witness Katrina evacuees use the $2000 debit cards given them by FEMA and the Red Cross to buy luxuries, like jewelry, instead of necessities. Says one disgruntled Galleria employee who would rather remain nameless:
"I was upset because I donated money like a lot of people, and I think it should have just strictly been used for food and clothing and necessities … not luxury items that, I mean, I can't even afford."

Good Samaritan Jayne Lawrence, 55, of Williamsburg, Ohio opened her home to a pair of sisters-in-law from New Orleans, who told her their husbands were overseas in the military. However, after five days she thinks their story may be bogus. She's been driving one of them to a clinic every day for treatment for a bad leg. Lawrence has been taken aback by how much they eat and how much electricity they use. She's encouraged them to find work but they seem more interested in finding food stamps. Lawrence says, "I think that's what I'm doing is getting scammed. It seems they don't want help. They want handouts."

There is still a rosy glow over the most wretched and poor victims of Katrina who certainly deserve our help to establish their dislocated lives. However, a year from now, some smart journalist is going to revisit this massive exodus of poor people from New Orleans and wonder how much the billion dollars in private contributions to these poor unfortunates changed their lives for the better. My guess is that in the end, they will be in about the same boat as they were in before Katrina but spread to the four corners of America.

Most of the poor in America become poor due to bad decisions they freely make which make a mess of their lives. They make bad decisions because of defects in their character. As Heraclitus said, "Character is destiny." Until they improve their character, their destiny is poverty.


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