Ithaca Blog

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Katrina: Don't Mourn - Organize

It's the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, as has been duly noted in the media, as the media dearly loves anniversaries of things, because it creates content with no effort.

So there are lots of pictures of devastation, and hand-wringing about suffering, and scarey speculation about the next big storm. But there is not much holding to account the Bush administration, whose negligence made for more suffering than the storm itself.

Nor is there much analysis of relief efforts, and who is doing what. Mayor Negin of New Orleans makes a gaffe about the "hole in the ground" that still exisits at Ground Zero in New York, and this dominates the headlines, as the media diverts attention from the real issues, and ducks its professional responsibilities in reporting them.

It's not leading the news, but it should be: to date, school children in America have donated more money to Katrina relief than most major corporations.

(Yesterday, it was reported that while worker productivity in the U.S. increased by 4 per cent last year, real wages for workers declined. Corporations taketh, and they taketh it far away.)

The lesson is that compassion and responsibility does not come from the powerful institutions in this country. Instead, it comes from those with the least. Think what we could, and would, do with more. And then work on taking that power. As Joe Hill, the labor leader, said before his execution, don't mourn - organize. A national third party for working people - not of, by, and for corporate money hoarders and launderers - is a good place to start.

Stephen Burke
for Ithaca Blog

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