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Food or Guns

By Maria Graham & Will Baptist III

When people have lost everything and still need to survive what then is left? When your baby is crying and you don't have formula what do you do? When you have a medical condition and no medicine where do you go? When the water that surrounds you is polluted with e coli and you are thirsty what do you do?


In early 2001, FEMA , the Federal Emergency Management Agency of the U.S. government, listed a major hurricane hitting New Orleans as one of the three most serious threats to the nation. ( )


We watched an interview with the Mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin. The Mayor stated that the only way out of the hurricane ravaged city was to walk out. There was one interstate highway that could lead to help and food. He asked for water and food to be dropped along side the road for the New Orleans survivors that decided to march to safety. The survivors were greeted by troops "search & rescue personnel" with machine guns forcing them to return to the submerged city, because they feared that property would be damaged and looted.


The aid that came in response to this horrific natural disaster came on behalf of the wealthy. The poor that needed help the most were cast aside in the name of protecting property. This was a clear example of where our countries priorities lie. This is not about Republicans or Democrats; this is about the value of human beings.


I know everyone has heard about people firing on helicopters. I'm certainly not saying it is right, but after being there, I understand. For five days, helicopters are flying overhead, but none of them are dropping water or food down for anyone. They fly by using load speakers saying that anyone found looting or stealing will be arrested, and those are the helicopters that are followed by gunshots, from what I see.

The only government group anyone has seen is the police with sawed-off shotguns threatening to arrest everyone who is walking around on the streets.

Everyone is fearful for his future, and fear leads people to do amazing, extraordinary things. It's a state of war. People don't even know who they're fighting, but they know they're at war. Twice, I bike away at full speed from people that come at me. Before I leave the city, my cash, backpack loaded with food and change of clothes and my camera are stolen. The final time, two people robbed me of my water. They didn't even ask for cash or my watch, just my water. It is desperation, and the last thing I could ever feel is anger.

(By Nick Glassman,

Pick the comparison: New Orleans looks like Haiti, or Iraq, or Sudan, Bangladesh or Sri Lanka. The images of all the rubble and corpses and empty-eyed survivors remind people of those places, not the United States.  ( By Kevin Sullivan Washington Post) 


This being a capitalist country one might ask what the market forces have in store for these areas now depleted of poor people. While taking an intro to real estate class the one concept that stuck when thinking about price was location, location, location. The areas near the Gulf of Mexico are prime real estate locations. As a young boy I was told by a mentor, "that when a problem arises always follow the money". Who will benefit from this disaster? Considering the mass exodus of poor black people that do not support republicans, Bush would definitely be on that list. Even with the state going to Bush in the last Presidential election this surely strengthens his base.


The Navy has hired Houston-based Halliburton Co. to restore electric power, repair roofs and remove debris at three naval facilities in Mississippi damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

President Bush met with his Cabinet to discuss the relief efforts, saying he would be leading an inquiry and would be sending Vice President Dick Cheney to the region. (Dick Cheney is the former CEO of Halliburton)

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the deployment would not hamper the military's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

( Houston Chronicle )

"We have the forces, the capabilities and the intention to fully prosecute the global war on terror while responding to this unprecedented humanitarian crisis here at home," he told reporters. (

We can build billion dollar space stations and planes that can fly beyond the speed of sound. We can fly aid to Southeast Asia for the tsunami victims in 36 hours. We can even fit in a game of golf or two, but what about the poor? The Bush administration was quick to go to war in Iraq but slow and inadequate to aid poor black people devastated by Hurricane Katrina.


New Orleans and Cleveland tied as the poorest big cities in the USA in 2004. (U.S. Census Bureau)


When you are hungry you need food, when you are cold you need warm clothes and a home, when you are sick you need medicine, whom should you rely on? When your government sends guns instead of life's necessities you need a movement of, by and for the people. Donating money to charity isn't enough, when do we take our destiny into our own hands? When do we hold people accountable for their blatant disregard for human life?

"...There are millions of poor people in this country who have very little, or even nothing, to lose. If they can be helped to take action together, they will do so with a freedom and a power that will be a new and unsettling force in our complacent national life..." Martin Luther King, Jr.

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