Showing posts with label Haiti. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Haiti. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

If Louisiana were capable of shame . . .

. . . the following "fun" fact would do it.

But it's not.

C'est la vie.

SO, WE'LL just have to let J.R. Ball of the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report be ashamed . . . verklempt . . . mortified on its behalf.
Here's a fact that should make anyone who breathes the contaminated air in this state shudder: Haiti commits a greater percentage of its budget (13%) to higher education than Louisiana (11%).

That's right, the government of a third-world, impoverished nation still struggling to recover from a massive earthquake in 2010 invests more, on a percentage basis, in higher education than the government of Louisiana. That would be the same Louisiana that supposedly is in year five of the eight-year Louisiana miracle.

For those conditioned to respond to such dismal news by saying, “Well, at least we're not Mississippi,” consider that the Magnolia State commits 17.7% of its state budget to higher education, nearly 7 percentage points more than the Bayou State.

So pardon me if my reaction to the just-concluded regular legislative session is a bit more muted than that of those celebrating the “historic” reforms that were approved by Gov. Bobby Jindal and friends. No doubt it was a great session for those demanding reform of K-12 education, but it was another dismal one for higher education. It's gotten so bad that we're forced to celebrate a cut of just $66 million because it could have been as much as $225 million. Yet, remember, higher education must also cut $25 million between now and the end of the month, for a total hit this session of $91 million.

If you are keeping score at home, that's $451 million in budget cuts to higher education since the Jindal administration took office. Moreover, the administration -- thanks to gutless special interest legislators—is now oh-fer-two in its attempts to merge a struggling four-year institution with another university, including one involving Southern University at New Orleans, recently rated as the worst-performing university in America.
FOR YEARS, every time the wife and I head down to Louisiana for a visit, we have commented on the ongoing "Port-au-Princification" of vast swaths of my hometown, Baton Rouge. This refers to how what was nice-to-average now just has become shabby and vaguely Third Worldish.

And now I'll be damned if Louisiana won't even allow me to use ever-so-modest hyperbole to illustrate a bloody point. No, it insists on seeing my dramatic license and raising me a
"WHAT THE Fµ¢#???!!!"

Alas, beating your head against the reinforced-concrete wall of the Gret Stet's cultural and political dysfunction is the height of futility. Unfortunately for Ball, someone's got to do it.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Screw the meek, for they harsh our mellow

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Last February, the Pharisee of the Airwaves went before a crowd of true believers to state some articles of the conservative faith.

And verily, Rush Limbaugh said unto the Conservative Political Action Conference that greed doth bode favorably unto us, social programs doth vex the people and, yea, government doth harsh thine mellow.

Thus, the high priest that year declareth unto the multitude that, yea, it be expedient for us that the poor should be cast asunder, so that the rich man be taxeth not. Amen.

But, seriously, the people who have achieved great things, most of it is not inherited. Most wealth in this country is the result of entrepreneurial, just plain old hard work. There’s no reason to punish it. There’s no reason to raise taxes on these people. Barack Obama, the Democrat Party, have one responsibility, and that’s to respect the oath they gave to protect, defend and follow the US Constitution.

They don’t have the right to take money that’s not theirs and none of it is from the back pockets of producers and give it to groups like ACORN which are going to advance the Democrat Party. If anybody but government were doing this, it would be a crime. And many of us think it’s bordering on that as it exists now.

President Obama is so busy trying to foment and create anger in a created atmosphere of crisis. He is so busy fueling the emotions of class envy that he’s forgotten it’s not his money that he’s spending. [Applause] In fact, the money he’s spending is not ours. He’s spending wealth that has yet to be created. And that is not sustainable. It will not work. This has been tried around the world. And every time it’s been tried it’s a failed disaster.


Yet, as I listen to the Democratic Party campaign, why, America is still a soup kitchen, the poor is still poor and they have no hope and they’re poor for what reason? They’re poor because of us, because we don’t care, and because we’ve gotten rich by taking from them, that’s what kids in school are taught today. That’s what others have said to the media. You know why they’re poor, you know why they remain poor? Because their lives have been destroyed by the never-ending government hay that’s designed to help them but it destroys ambition. It destroys the education they might get to learn to be self-fulfilling. [Applause] And it breaks our heart. It breaks our heart. We lose track of numbers with all of the money, with all the money that’s been transferred, redistributed, with all the charitable giving in this country.

Ladies and gentlemen, there ought not be any poverty except those who are genuinely ill equipped. But most of the people in poverty in this country are equipped for far much more. They’ve just been beaten down. They’re told don’t worry, we’ll take care of you. There’s nothing out there for you anyway; you’ll be discriminated against. Breaks our heart to see this. We can’t have a great country and a growing economy with more and more people being told they have a right, because of some injustice that’s been done to them or some discrimination, that they have a right to the earnings of others. And it’s gotten so out of hand now that what worries me is that this administration, the Barack Obama administration is actively seeking to expand the welfare state in this country because he wants to control it.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, I present to you the fulfillment of Rush Limbaugh's conservative dream -- Haiti.

In Haiti, people have no right to the earnings of others. No one is being "beaten down," because absolutely no one is telling the masses they'll be taken care of from womb to tomb.

In Haiti, there is precious little government, in fact, to get in the way of ordinary Haitians being all they can be. There is no "never-ending government hay" to stifle initiative, ambition or creativity.

And while there historically has been some "never-ending" foreign-aid hay, much of that has been stolen by the tiny corps of bureaucrats and, therefore, has not been allowed to taint the people who don't need it the most.

No, Haiti is a bootstrap kind of country -- never more so than it is now in the wake of the catastrophic earthquake.

Its people are all "rugged individualists" now, and there is no free lunch. Or supper. Or breakfast.

For that matter, there's no free water, either.

AND FOR THOSE unfortunate souls crushed under the weight of crumbled buildings thrown up by hardy capitalists free of the heavy hand of government oppression -- also known as building codes and inspections -- there is no free funeral, either.

In Haiti, the Limbaughian conservative paradise, even the dead must be self-reliant or be punished by the relentless logic of the free market. Naturally, the left-wingers of London's Guardian newspaper
are horrified by such a well-functioning society where those who can't cut it get what they deserve.

Especially when they're dead.
The smell is bad, but the sights are worse. Far worse. Bodies are piled up along the path, dumped one upon the other. A couple of chickens are pecking at them like corn. One of them, a woman with braided hair perhaps in her 30s, has her hands in a rigor mortis embrace, as though she had been trying to cling on to life and never let it go.

A few feet further in, we come across a hand-wagon. It is old and rustic, like something out of an Antonioni movie. Inside about six bodies are stacked in jumbled postures. The wagon sits there, with its cargo, under the crosses of the tombs, making some twisted comment about God's will be done. One of the bodies has its hand outstretched and when a car passes by, bringing into the cemetery yet another corpse, it hits the arm and makes it swing like a creaking door.

Every five minutes a new body is brought in, most in simple coffins, fashioned out of rough bits of salvaged wood; one has been made out of old cupboard doors. Suddenly, six men rush by, carrying on their shoulders a fancy lacquered coffin, heading for one of the tombs of a wealthy family.

Poor Haitian families don't enjoy such luxury of mourning. A tomb on the right side of the walkway has been opened to allow the body of a 14-year-old girl, swaddled in white cloth and laid out in a pick-up truck, to be added beside the remains of her parents. Above the opening, the word "réparation" has been scrawled. We ask the cemetery workers standing nearby what that signifies. "It means the family has no money," one worker tells us in broken French. "They cannot pay." A truck with the young girl on board later drove off, her body unburied.

How much money are we talking about, we ask, what are you charged to lay a teenaged girl to rest? A hundred dollars, the workers say.

Officials from the city council in charge of the cemetery tell us that the bodies dumped along the path were all brought by families who couldn't afford to pay.

Outside the cemetery, a man is sitting on a car looking busy. He is keeping a registry of the new arrivals. He already has 210 names on his list, some identified by just their first name.

An elderly man walks out of the cemetery, looking weary and clutching a handkerchief to his face. He has just put his sister and niece into the family tomb. Marie Eve Alcindor, 63, and Sarah, 32, died when the roof of the family clothes shop fell on them. Marie Eve had arrived in Port-au-Prince one week before the earthquake to visit her family. She had come from New York, where she worked as a paediatrician. "My sister was a doctor and she cared for children," says Jean-Pierre Alcindor. "So for her to come here, die here, and now we cannot even care for her body with dignity – do you know how that feels?"

Marie Eve's own children had wanted to take her body back to America for burial. But there were no trucks to carry her, no flights, no companies that would take her. After five days, the body by now decomposing, they called off the effort and ventured instead into the Grand Cimetière.

Standing beside Jean-Pierre Alcindor was his nephew Orel. He survived because when the family shop collapsed, he was at the back of the building and managed to crouch under a car that protected him. He was pulled from the rubble for hours after the quake, bearing scratches on his head and arms but otherwise unharmed

"This country was bad long before this," he says. "But now the earthquake has exposed the true face of Haiti."
SOCIAL DARWINISM -- or should I say social Limbaughism -- has no time for market inefficiencies such as "dignity."

After all, "human dignity" is a socialist concept anyway -- it is doled out equally to all, regardless of talent, work ethic, ability to pay or moral rectitude. It negatively incentivizes individuals, as it were. You cannot receive more if you work hard at being dignified, and you cannot be dignity-penalized for being a complete reprobate.

Human beings come in all shapes and sizes, possessing an infinite variety of talents and incompetencies, a maddening range of intelligence, as well as consciences functioning at varying degrees of efficiency. Yet they all receive "human dignity" in equal measure from an obviously communistic deity.

"Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land" is "communist" rhetoric worthy of Fidel Castro . . . and
that it actually came from the God-man Jesus Christ poses a fatal contradiction for radical, utilitarian capitalists trying to simultaneously pass themselves off as God-fearing social "conservatives."

Humans don't start shedding dignity -- or inalienable rights -- once they exit the birth canal. And you can't preach "God-given rights and dignity" while privileging free-market, survival-of-the-fittest ideology over God-given ultimatums to the contrary.

I THINK JESUS sums up the Limbaugh Dilemma pretty well
in Luke 16:
No servant can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all these things and sneered at him.

And he said to them, "You justify yourselves in the sight of others, but God knows your hearts; for what is of human esteem is an abomination in the sight of God.
YOU CAN'T SERVE two masters . . . God and mammon. Human dignity and materialist, utilitarian ideology.

Not that Rush and scores like him won't stop trying to tell us we can so have our cake and eat it, too.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

That doo doo that he do. . . .

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Being the self-reliant man of achievement that he is, Rush Limbaugh wasn't satisfied with the new low in misanthropic commentary he reached Wednesday.

So he topped himself today.

I DON'T KNOW about you, but the fact that the man is allegedly an American -- who actually has American listeners via American radio -- makes me want to learn to say "aboot" and "shedule" so I can pass as Canadian.

The Chicago Tribune has been reporting on
this latest conservaporn on the public airwaves:
Maybe radio's Rush Limbaugh was trying to provide the Rev. Pat Robertson with a little cover, when he suggested on-air that people don't need to contribute money to Haitian earthquake relief.

It was Robertson who first suggested that the people of Haiti are paying for "a pact with the devil'' made centuries ago.

But it was Limbaugh -- at a time when the president is asking Americans to contribute money to earthquake relief and directing them to the White House Website to learn where they can help, as the State Department reports more than $3 million in $10 donations for the Red Cross through its text-messaging network -- who told a caller that all helping out will do is get someone on Obama's campaign email list.

"We've already donated to Haiti,'' Limbaugh told the caller on his radio show (here it below) "It's called the U.S. income tax."

President Barack Obama today announced $100 million in direct aid to Haiti for earthquake relief.
IRONICALLY, if America itself followed the Limbaugh prescription for improving Haiti, we'd probably end up just like "unimproved" Haiti. And "el Rushbo," no doubt, would be our very own "Papa Doc" Duvalier.

A new low . . . Rush must be so proud

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but usually not in the mad, mad world of right-wing radio blatherer Rush Limbaugh.

In fact, in Rush's world of daily three-hour doses of paranoia and misanthropy, an earthquake isn't even just an earthquake. . . . Whoops! That's another never-ending acid trip altogether -- Pat Robertson's.

Actually, in Rush's never-ending acid trip (although I concede that he could be juicing his cigars with PCP instead), earthquake relief isn't just earthquake relief. No, in the sad existence of this self-made man with his own self-made broadcasting dystopia, the United States sending desperately needed earthquake relief to Haiti -- the poor man of the Western Hemisphere -- isn't just about being a decent neighbor.

NOR IS IT about America's sputtering efforts, randomly undertaken, at living up to its defining myth.

Instead, it's about President Obama trying to suck up to his fellow black folk.

YOU CAN'T make up that kind of crazy. From The Raw Story this morning:
"In the Haiti earthquake, ladies and gentleman, in the words of Rahm Emanuel, 'we have another crisis simply too good to waste,'" the conservative talk show host remarked. "This will play right into Obama's hands, humanitarian, compassionate."

"They'll use this to burnish their, shall we say, credibility with the black community, in the light-skinned and black-skinned community in this country," Limbaugh added. "It's made to order for them. That's why he could not wait to get out there. Could not wait to get out there."

This isn't the first time Limbaugh has found himself in troubled waters over racial comments.

Last September, Limbaugh made brash comments following an incident in which a white student was beaten by black students on a bus (an incident police later said wasn't racial motivated).

“I think not only it was racism, it was justifiable racism," he remarked. "I mean, that’s the lesson we’re being taught here today. Kid shouldn’t have been on the bus anyway. We need segregated buses — it was invading space and stuff. This is Obama’s America.”
A LONG TIME AGO, I concluded that listening to Rush Limbaugh not only was as intellectually and morally damaging as listening to 50-Cent for three hours a day, but indeed was a near occasion of sin. For everybody.

It's nice of Mr. Limbaugh to keep offering up assurances that I was correct in my judgment.

One of these things . . . much like the other

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Haiti is in ruins -- in utter chaos -- with untold thousands either dead, missing or suffering after Tuesday's earthquake near Port au Prince.

There has been precious little help. Precious little food. Precious little medical care.

The world is mobilizing to help, but the world does not reside in Haiti -- the cavalry, so to speak, is days away.

THIS WAS New Orleans in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina. You'd be forgiven for thinking it a wet Haiti.

Much of the city was in ruins -- in utter chaos -- with untold thousands dead, missing or suffering in the aftermath of the storm and the collapse of the levees. There had been precious little help. Precious little food. Precious little medical care.

Haiti has its excuses, a particularly good one being that it happens to be the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. New Orleans, on the other hand, is found in the world's richest country.

Yet New Orleans looked -- in many respects, long has looked and still looks -- not dissimilar to Port au Prince. In NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams' special on Katrina from 2005, he said "I think this is going to change our society for a good, long while."

Perhaps he was speaking in terms of "dog years."

Somebody has some explaining to do.