Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Shock Doctrine at work in New Orleans

Naomi Klein's book Shock Doctrine is beautifully written and well researched. What is happening in New Orleans is the outcome of four decades of economic theorizing by the "Chicago School" of laissez faire, unfettered, free market capitalism which has wrought misery in Chile, Russia, Iraq and a number of other countries. Now it has come home to the good ol' USA. Other parts of the country can expect the same. Perhaps the country as a whole.

Naomi Klein -- Shocking the World Bank and IMF Crowd With Her Analysis of 'Disaster Capitalism' | BuzzFlash.org
Naomi Klein: The example that is most graphic is what happened in New Orleans after the levees broke. Here you had a disaster which, in many ways, had at its roots the ideology of unfettered capitalism. and the war on the public fear. What wasn't simply a natural disaster. It was a collision between heavy weather and a weak state infrastructure. That was the disaster in New Orleans. In the immediate aftermath of that disaster, there was a real discussion taking place in the United States in the mainstream media about how the public infrastructure had been allowed to erode in this way. It was a real wake-up call for a lot of people, this revelation that the federal government, that FEMA, was sort of an empty shell that had been totally outsourced. Everyone seemed to be on vacation. Their response, ironically, was to leap into the chasm opened up by the disaster -- the disorientation and the chaos, and the fact that people were focused on daily concerns of survival -- and they pushed through a very radical agenda that was essentially finishing the job and wiping out the public infrastructure in New Orleans. And this was immediate. I was in New Orleans when the city was still flooded. I was interviewing lobbyists who were already camped out at the state legislature building in Baton Rouge, talking about all the tax cuts they were going to get, and the new labor flexibility, and what a great opportunity this was, and making it very clear that they didn't plan to hire local workers to rebuild the city, but that it would be all migrant workers at lower wages. There was a great deal of excitement. This is what I mean by disaster capitalism. If you look at what has happened to New Orleans in the two years since, we see that this process that goes by the misnomer "reconstruction" has really completed this war on the public sector. The public housing projects are boarded up and stand empty. You have condo developers circling. Their largest public hospital, Charity Hospital, is empty. This was the hospital that was treating the uninsured. The New Orleans public education system is now the country's leading laboratory in the charter school model. Half the students in New Orleans who used to go to public schools are going to charter schools.

What disaster can we expect before the 2008 election? Will the "terrorists" give Bush/Cheney an excuse follow the blueprint for dictatorship?

See also this Youtube talk by Wolf for a precis.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Being one of the many tens of thousands of victims of the federal levee failures and still trying to recover, I need to tell you that it sucks being caught in the middle as the target in this partisan war.

Our recovery has been so well starved that the carpetbaggers have left town. Man-o-man, Shaw Corporation made a bazillion tons of easy money off our 'recovery'.