Monday, September 12, 2005

Yes we can!

While watching the news this weekend - I just got cable so I've been a bit of a junkie, making up for lost time - I caught a program on CSPAN that sparked my interest.

The author of Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America, John Barry was talking about, surprise, surprise, material from his book. This flood displaced over a million people, covered more states than Hurricane Katerina did, resulted in 146 different levies breaking... I think that flood and this disaster are somewhat comparable.

What struck me about this flood was that though the damage totaled what was 1/3 of the then federal budget, and though over a million people were without homes, the federal government didn't spend a single dime to help in the aftermath. I've heard some criticism about President Bush and his reaction to this flood... well, regardless of what he could have done better, he is heads above the president in 1927. Calvin Coolidge refused to visit the South, wouldn't autograph pictures to be auctioned off to raise money for the victims, and even opted out of doing a radio address to the evacuees.

I bring this flood up because, while less than perfect, the government's reaction to Katerina is light years better. Why? Well, according to Barry, after the 1927 flood, the American people were so enraged that people would be treated like that, that the government would have such a strong "God helps those who help themselves" attitude. And so they fought for change. And they got it.

On Sunday I asked that we fight for change, realizing how daunting a task that might seem. After hearing the story of the flood of 1927, I was even more convinced that we can enact change. We've done it before, we can do it again.

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