The Plan...first step?
I've seen a lot of commentary these days including the patented reference that "whining is not a plan.®" I think we're still at a stage where spotlighting the failures of our situation is valuable for many who don't yet grasp that basic, bed-rock changes are called for and to offer the sorts of solutions that may be necessary will seem to many to be too radical to consider.
Rather than offer The Plan for saving America and all mankind, I'd offer this observation: While I'm sure it's true that most people alive today aren't conscious of it, the path this country has taken since the beginning of the 19th century toward granting the government increasing power and responsibility for the security and well-being of its citizens has been a slow, yet mostly unchallenged one. Its slow but steady progress has brainwashed people into thinking that a) this is always how it's been and b) it's the way it should be and the only way it can be.
The Katrina disaster is another signpost along this road and I suggest it represents one of the more striking possibilities for recognition of some crucial insights.
Underlying much of the impatience and anger being leveled at the administration is a disbelief that our leaders could appear so heartless and uncaring. The actual fact is, compassion is a HUMAN quality and one that's demonstrably not possible or present within an institution. We want and somehow expect our elected leaders to demonstrate compassion and in some cases they do, on an individual basis. It's my opinion that for the most part, they're most likely to do that if there are political gains to be made. This is not to say that no one in government has a heart, only that at the end of the day their own self-interest will inspire their actions.
In this case, however, I believe the president has allowed us to see, in HIS face, the actual institutional face of our government. It's impersonal, heartless and self-serving. By saying to the world that he identifies with the rebuilding of Trent Lott's house as a priority, for example, Mr. Bush puts all of us on notice that we'd better look out for ourselves.
So, this is my strategy: Begin accepting the idea that no one can look out for you better than you can and in almost every case the cost/benefit breakdown of ceding the power for your own well-being to the state is not worth it.
I imagine at this moment many of the survivors along the Gulf Coast are experiencing just such an "ah-ha!" moment. I humbly suggest that you consider having yours BEFORE such a disaster confronts you and yours.