My friend Greg Swann chips in with an excellent compilation of the natural and man-made disaster that is New Orleans.

He does what I’ve been trying to do in everything I’ve written about it, and that’s to get to the root of it. As Robert Tracinski writes in The Intellectual Activist article cited by Greg:

For the past few days, I have found the news from New Orleans to be confusing. People were not behaving as you would expect them to behave in an emergency—indeed, they were not behaving as they have behaved in other emergencies. That is what has shocked so many people: they have been saying that this is not what we expect from America. In fact, it is not even what we expect from a Third World country.

When confronted with a disaster, people usually rise to the occasion. They work together to rescue people in danger, and they spontaneously organize to keep order and solve problems. This is especially true in America. We are an enterprising people, used to relying on our own initiative rather than waiting around for the government to take care of us. I have seen this a hundred times, in small examples (a small town whose main traffic light had gone out, causing ordinary citizens to get out of their cars and serve as impromptu traffic cops, directing cars through the intersection) and large ones (the spontaneous response of New Yorkers to September 11).

So what explains the chaos in New Orleans?

Go read Greg’s post, where he excerpts some particularly good sections. But I encourage you to take the time to read the underlying articles in full, and if time is too limited, then at least do yourself the favor of reading this one.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Political Pie on September 7, 2005 at 10:44

    I loved that article so much I posted the whole article on my blog yesterday!

  2. patd95 on September 7, 2005 at 12:17

    I'm not an expert like your next post states. But I am from N.O. and understand the politics. It truly is a Banana Republic. It is the underbelly of waste, corruption, nepotism and larceny in American politics. Maybe this storm will do more than wash out the streets. It might clean up City Hall in New Orleans!

  3. Sally on September 7, 2005 at 16:15

    What a terrific article you linked to – thanks, Richard & Gregg! Had a disaster hit an area of inhabitants who take more pride in their lives & property, things would be quite different these several days later.
    I can only compare NO & area it to my life in San Francisco at the time of the '89 quake: How nice it was to see ALL creating 4-way stops at all intersections and to see immediate personal actions taken to address the problems rather than lamenting (for the most part) that the government wasn't doing enough.
    Granted, SF is hardly a city of "conservative values", but it's one in which the residents demonstrated civility during a trying time.

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