On Aug. 29, 2005, the central Gulf Coast of the U.S. endured a merciless assault from a “Category Five” hurricane – Katrina. Taking devastating hits were New Orleans, Louisiana; Biloxi, Mississippi; and Mobile, Alabama. The property damages inflicted by the storm are estimated to cost between $16 to $25 billion. Flood surges dumped all kinds of pollutants, chemicals and human waste on impacted areas, with New Orleans, one of the great cities of the South, brought to a total standstill. At least, 100 people were reported dead and tens of thousands more were left homeless by the killer storm. Over 5,000,000 residents in the Gulf Coast area are presently without electricity. It could take from six to eight weeks, or longer, for the power companies to restore service to the customers affected.
Is there a message here from Katrina for America? Can we use this time of tragedy to reflect and take an honest look at ourselves? Will people ever start to notice just how vulnerable we are as a nation, not only to natural disasters, but to man-made economic and political ones, as well?
On the economic front, did you know that 8,000 U.S. companies, totally $1.3 trillion, were sold to foreign interests in the last 10 years (e.g. Chrysler, Amoco and Arco Oil)? Many of our major industries are now controlled by foreign companies. In addition, we have lost four million high-paying manufacturing jobs in the last ten years. Also, 99% of the U.S. Federal Deficit was financed by foreign investors in 2004. From 1998 to 2004, foreign countries have spent $620 million in Washington, DC, lobbying for free trade, tax incentives and contracts. Do you get the feeling the American people are being royally shafted by the special interests? If so, you’re right.
Will America ever become conscious, too, of the massive suffering that we as a country have imposed on the innocent peoples of Iraq? Shouldn’t we ponder: “What does that exactly mean for our relationship with the Muslim World, not only for the possibility of increased terrorism, but also for the alarming rise in the price of energy?” The toll from the man-made Iraqi War is of a mega-catastrophe level! A nation of 22 million souls, Iraq, and its ancient cities, like Baghdad, Fallujah and Mosul, have been reduced mostly to rubble by the U.S.’s invasion and occupation of that country. Water, gasoline, food, medical supplies and electricity are always in need there, while dangerous radioactive depleted uranium dust saturates the country. As many as 100,000 Iraqi civilians may have been killed so far in that conflict.
And just how did we get into that Iraqi mess? The Iraqi War was the brain child of Paul Wolfowitz. At the time of the invasion-March 20, 2003-he was the Deputy Secretary of Defense and one of the highest ranking members of the Bush-Cheney Gang. Today, he is in charge of the World Bank. By common consent, Wolfowitz, a zealot and Neocon, has been deemed the prime “architect” of that unjust and immoral blood-stained war.
There are also all kinds of ramifications from the Iraqi War, and some have hit home because of the Katrina disaster. When the Louisiana National Guard, in the aftermath of the storm, was called out to protect property and life, only 65 percent of its personnel were able to answer the call! Why? The Bush-Cheney Gang had sent the rest of them to Iraq based on a war policy that we now know is nothing but a pack of lies. Some of the members of that Guard are on their second tour of duty in the Iraqi hellhole. Of the 1,877 American military personnel that have died in Iraq, 47 were from the state of Louisiana and five called the city of New Orleans – home. The Iraqi War itself has cost this nation $190.8 billion, with no end in sight.
And, then there is what the Bush-Cheney Gang didn’t do to help the peoples of the central Gulf Coast region. As late as Feb. 7, 2005, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had identified and documented a strong need for additional flood and hurricane protection in the range of $150 million for the New Orleans region. The funds sought were to be used for “widening drainage canals, flood-proofing bridges and building pumping stations in Orleans and Jefferson parishes.” The Corps’ justified request, however, received a deaf ear from the Bush-Cheney Gang, which insisted on wasting more of our nation’s resources on the unwinnable Iraqi War and other madcap schemes.
One of the excessive expenditures now on the Bush-Cheney Gang’s agenda, deals with Israel. The American taxpayers are expected to pick up the cost, $2.2 billion, for the recent removal of the illegal Israeli settlements from Occupied Gaza. This operation has nothing whatsoever to do with the safety or security of the U.S. In fact, since 1948, U.S. taxpayers have subsidized the Israeli state to the tune of $100 billion-plus. Keep in mind, the U.S. didn’t have any enemies in the Islamic World prior to the creation of Israel and that none of Israel’s troops are serving along side U.S. military personnel in Iraq. Why does this one-sided relationship with Zionist Israel persist? Where is the priority of this and past administrations?
Another result of Katrina is that the price of gasoline, immediately, jumped five cents a gallon at the pump. Consumers can also expect natural gas prices to be 20 percent higher than last Fall’s, since the Katrina-suffering central Gulf Coast is one of the leading areas for the production and distribution of both oil and gas. The dysfunctional energy ploys of the Bush-Cheney Gang are big part of this current problem, too. Question: “What man-made incident, more than any other, has helped to destabilize the international oil market in today’s world? Try the U.S. invasion of Iraq! 
I believe that Katrina and the Iraqi War are wake up calls for America! It’s time for all of us to take a good look at our country and see where we have been and where we are headed. Thanks to self-defeating economic policies, we are no longer competitive as a nation. We are only a “free market” for others, like the Plutocratic elite, to exploit. Our manufacturing base is fast disappearing and our trade deficits are transferring billions of dollars of U.S. assets to foreign control. Our national debt now stands at $7.9 trillion!  The Iraqi War, too, inspired by the Neocons, has only made us more enemies. It has also led to the destabilizing of the price of oil.
Finally, the Bush-Cheney Gang’s gross incompetence has also shown how vulnerable we are to monopolized energy market forces and to the future “Enronization of America!” It’s time for the people to wake up and to take their country back before it is too late. By ancient right, the Republic belongs to the people, but only if they have the the courage and the vision to take the political action that is necessary to fully restore it.
. Deon Roberts, New Orleans City Business, “Bush’s Budget for New Orleans District,” 02/07/05.