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How Power Profits From Disaster

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1 How Power Profits From Disaster on 7/8/2017, 7:42 pm


By Naomi Klein, Guardian UK
07 July 17

After a crisis, private contractors move in and suck up funding for work done badly, if at all – then those billions get cut from government budgets. Like Grenfell Tower, Hurricane Katrina revealed a disdain for the poor.

(This is a long article...please feel free to read the whole thing and remind yourself what a disaster Bush was...but I wanted to highlight the last bits:)




"...What I saw during the flooding shocked me. But what I saw in the aftermath of Katrina shocked me even more. With the city reeling, and with its residents dispersed across the country and unable to protect their own interests, a plan emerged to ram through a pro-corporate wishlist with maximum velocity. The famed free-market economist Milton Friedman, then 93 years old, wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal stating, “Most New Orleans schools are in ruins, as are the homes of the children who have attended them. The children are now scattered all over the country. This is a tragedy. It is also an opportunity to radically reform the educational system.”

In a similar vein, Richard Baker, at that time a Republican congressman from Louisiana, declared, “We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans. We couldn’t do it, but God did.” I was in an evacuation shelter near Baton Rouge when Baker made that statement. The people I spoke with were just floored by it. Imagine being forced to leave your home, having to sleep in a camping bed in some cavernous convention centre, and then finding out that the people who are supposed to represent you are claiming this was some sort of divine intervention – God apparently really likes condo developments.

Baker got his “cleanup” of public housing. In the months after the storm, with New Orleans’s residents – and all their inconvenient opinions, rich culture and deep attachments – out of the way, thousands of public housing units, many of which had sustained minimal storm damage because they were on high ground, were demolished. They were replaced with condos and town houses priced far out of reach for most who had lived there.

And this is where Mike Pence enters the story. At the time Katrina hit New Orleans, Pence was chairman of the powerful and highly ideological Republican Study Committee (RSC), a caucus of conservative lawmakers. On 13 September 2005 – just 15 days after the levees were breached, and with parts of New Orleans still under water – the RSC convened a fateful meeting at the offices of the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC. Under Pence’s leadership, the group came up with a list of “Pro-Free-Market Ideas for Responding to Hurricane Katrina and High Gas Prices” – 32 pseudo-relief policies in all, each one straight out of the disaster capitalism playbook.

What stands out is the commitment to wage all-out war on labour standards and the public sphere – which is bitterly ironic, because the failure of public infrastructure is what turned Katrina into a human catastrophe in the first place. Also notable is the determination to use any opportunity to strengthen the hand of the oil and gas industry. The list includes recommendations to suspend the obligation for federal contractors to pay a living wage; make the entire affected area a free-enterprise zone; and “repeal or waive restrictive environmental regulations … that hamper rebuilding”. In other words, a war on the kind of red tape designed to keep communities safe from harm.

President Bush adopted many of the recommendations within the week, although, under pressure, he was eventually forced to reinstate the labour standards. Another recommendation called for giving parents vouchers to use at private and charter schools (for-profit schools subsidised with tax dollars), a move perfectly in line with the vision held by Trump’s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos. Within the year, the New Orleans school system became the most privatised in the US.

And there was more. Though climate scientists have directly linked the increased intensity of hurricanes to warming ocean temperatures, that didn’t stop Pence and his committee from calling on Congress to repeal environmental regulations on the Gulf coast, give permission for new oil refineries in the US, and green-light “drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge”.

It’s a kind of madness. After all, these very measures are a surefire way to drive up greenhouse gas emissions, the major human contributor to climate change, which leads to fiercer storms. Yet they were immediately championed by Pence, and later adopted by Bush, under the guise of responding to a devastating hurricane.

It’s worth pausing to tease out the implications of all of this. Hurricane Katrina turned into a catastrophe in New Orleans because of a combination of extremely heavy weather – possibly linked to climate change – and weak and neglected public infrastructure. The so-called solutions proposed by the group Pence headed at the time were the very things that would inevitably exacerbate climate change and weaken public infrastructure even further. He and his fellow “free-market” travellers were determined, it seems, to do the very things that are guaranteed to lead to more Katrinas in the future.

And now Mike Pence is in a position to bring this vision to the entire United States.

The oil industry wasn’t the only one to profit from Hurricane Katrina. Immediately after the storm, the whole gang of contractors who had descended on Baghdad when war broke out – Bechtel, Fluor, Halliburton, Blackwater, CH2M Hill and Parsons, infamous for its sloppy Iraq work – now arrived in New Orleans. They had a singular vision: to prove that the kinds of privatised services they had been providing in Iraq and Afghanistan also had an ongoing domestic market – and to collect no-bid contracts totalling $3.4bn.

The controversies were legion. Relevant experience often appeared to have nothing to do with how contracts were allocated. Take, for example, the company that Fema paid $5.2m to perform the crucial role of building a base camp for emergency workers in St Bernard Parish, a suburb of New Orleans. The camp construction fell behind schedule and was never completed. Under investigation, it emerged that the contractor, Lighthouse Disaster Relief, was in fact a religious group. “About the closest thing I have done to this is just organise a youth camp with my church,” confessed Lighthouse’s director, Pastor Gary Heldreth.

After all the layers of subcontractors had taken their cut, there was next to nothing left for the people doing the work. Author Mike Davis tracked the way Fema paid Shaw $175 per sq ft to install blue tarps on damaged roofs, even though the tarps themselves were provided by the government. Once all the subcontractors took their share, the workers who actually hammered in the tarps were paid as little as $2 per sq ft.

“Every level of the contracting food chain, in other words, is grotesquely overfed except the bottom rung,” Davis wrote, “where the actual work is carried out.” These supposed “contractors” were really – like the Trump Organization – hollow brands, sucking out profit and then slapping their name on cheap or non-existent services.

In order to offset the tens of billions going to private companies in contracts and tax breaks, in November 2005 the Republican-controlled Congress announced that it needed to cut $40bn from the federal budget. Among the programmes that were slashed: student loans, Medicaid and food stamps.

So, the poorest people in the US subsidised the contractor bonanza twice: first, when Katrina relief morphed into unregulated corporate handouts, providing neither decent jobs nor functional public services; and second, when the few programmes that assist the unemployed and working poor nationwide were gutted to pay those bloated bills.

New Orleans is the disaster capitalism blueprint – designed by the current vice-president and by the Heritage Foundation, the hard-right think tank to which Trump has outsourced much of his administration’s budgeting. Ultimately, the response to Katrina sparked an approval ratings freefall for George W Bush, a plunge that eventually lost the Republicans the presidency in 2008. Nine years later, with Republicans now in control of Congress and the White House, it’s not hard to imagine this test case for privatised disaster response being adopted on a national scale.

The presence of highly militarised police and armed private soldiers in New Orleans came as a surprise to many. Since then, the phenomenon has expanded exponentially, with local police forces across the country outfitted to the gills with military-grade gear, including tanks and drones, and private security companies frequently providing training and support. Given the array of private military and security contractors occupying key positions in the Trump administration, we can expect all of this to expand further with each new shock.

The Katrina experience also stands as a stark warning to those who are holding out hope for Trump’s promised $1tn in infrastructure spending. That spending will fix some roads and bridges, and it will create jobs. Crucially, Trump has indicated that he plans to do as much as possible not through the public sector but through public-private partnerships – which have a terrible track record for corruption, and may result in far lower wages than true public-works projects would. Given Trump’s business record, and Pence’s role in the administration, there is every reason to fear that his big-ticket infrastructure spending could become a Katrina-like kleptocracy, a government of thieves, with the Mar-a-Lago set helping themselves to vast sums of taxpayer money.

New Orleans provides a harrowing picture of what we can expect when the next shock hits. But sadly, it is far from complete: there is much more that this administration might try to push through under cover of crisis. To become shock-resistant, we need to prepare for that, too."

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/44546-focus-how-power-profits-from-disaster

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It's the Republican way:

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3 Re: How Power Profits From Disaster on 7/10/2017, 12:21 pm



This is the book I recommended to you in another thread. Here's a summary:

http://beautifultrouble.org/theory/the-shock-doctrine/



The shock doctrine is a theory for explaining the way that force, stealth and crisis are used in implementing neoliberal economic policies such as privatization, deregulation and cuts to social services. Author Naomi Klein advanced this theory in her 2007 book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

In periods of disorientation following wars, coups, natural disasters and economic panics, pro-corporate reformers aggressively push through unpopular “free market” measures

By way of metaphor, Klein recounts the history of electroshock therapy experiments conducted by Scottish psychiatrist Ewen Cameron for the CIA in the 1950s. Cameron’s “shock therapy” sought to return troubled patients to a blank slate on which he could write a new personality. Klein argues that a parallel “shock therapy” process has been used at the macro level to impose neoliberal economic policies in countries around the world.

The shock doctrine posits that in periods of disorientation following wars, coups, natural disasters and economic panics, pro-corporate reformers aggressively push through unpopular “free market” measures. For more than thirty years, Klein writes, followers of Milton Friedman and other market fundamentalists have been “perfecting this very strategy: waiting for a major crisis, then selling off pieces of the state to private players while citizens were still reeling from the shock, then quickly making the ‘reforms’ permanent.”

One of the earliest examples of the shock doctrine is the case of Chile. In 1973, Chile’s democratically elected socialist President Salvador Allende was overthrown in a coup d’état led by army general Augusto Pinochet, with support from the United States. Amid lingering turmoil created by the coup and tensions caused by the ensuing economic downturn, Milton Friedman suggested that Pinochet implement a “shock program” of sweeping reforms including privatization of state-owned industries, elimination of trade barriers, and cuts to government spending. To implement these policies, the Pinochet regime appointed to important positions several Chilean disciples of Friedman. Additionally, to squash popular movements that opposed these changes, the regime unleashed a notorious program of torture and “disappearances,” which ultimately led to the deaths of thousands of dissidents.

Klein contends that various forms of the shock doctrine have since been used to advance hyper-capitalist reforms, for example in former Eastern Bloc countries following the collapse of the Soviet Union and in South Africa after the end of apartheid. More recently, pro-corporate advocates have used the 2004 tsunami in south Asia to privatize public beaches in Sri Lanka and have worked to slash corporate taxes and public education and re-shape neighborhoods in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In each case we witness, in Klein’s words, “orchestrated raids on the public sphere in the wake of catastrophic events, combined with the treatment of disasters as exciting market opportunities.”

Although the shock doctrine has helped explain neoliberal attempts to take advantage of disaster situations, it cannot entirely account for the success of “free market” ideology, particularly in cases in which the market’s powers of seduction play a larger role than the use of brute force. Moreover, we should remember that neoliberals are not the only ones who can capitalize on a crisis. Throughout the world, social movements are learning that political upheaval and economic downturn can create opportunities for popular movements to demand, and construct, a more just and equitable society.

MOST FAMOUS APPLICATION: Chile under Pinochet (1973-1989); post-Soviet Russia; post-tsunami Sri Lanka; post-Katrina New Orleans.

Mark Engler is a senior analyst with Foreign Policy in Focus and author of How to Rule the World: The Coming Battle Over the Global Economy (Nation Books).

**********





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4 Re: How Power Profits From Disaster on 7/10/2017, 1:03 pm

http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37826098

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5 Re: How Power Profits From Disaster on 7/10/2017, 1:05 pm

PkrBum wrote:http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37826098

Do you have a comment or a clue as to what your link is about?

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6 Re: How Power Profits From Disaster on 7/10/2017, 1:09 pm

Floridatexan wrote:
PkrBum wrote:http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37826098

Do you have a comment or a clue as to what your link is about?


Yes... Re: "How Power Profits From Disaster". Do you want the Clinton slushfund foundation corruption and fraud too?

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7 Re: How Power Profits From Disaster on 7/10/2017, 1:53 pm

del.capslock wrote:It's the Republican way:


Dailykos huh? Yawn. Maybe the R's are just inept when it comes to covering up criminal activity......I hear HRC is hosting a clinic on that subject in the near future. Probably at Goldman Sachs.....

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8 Re: How Power Profits From Disaster on 7/10/2017, 3:25 pm

PkrBum wrote:
Floridatexan wrote:
PkrBum wrote:http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37826098

Do you have a comment or a clue as to what your link is about?


Yes... Re: "How Power Profits From Disaster". Do you want the Clinton slushfund foundation corruption and fraud too?

No...I don't want to have to open your link to determine what the hell you're trying to say.  Is that clearer?  I would hate to be too obtuse for you (if that's possible).

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9 Re: How Power Profits From Disaster on 7/10/2017, 4:11 pm

Floridatexan wrote:No...I don't want to have to open your link to determine what the hell you're trying to say.  Is that clearer?  I would hate to be too obtuse for you (if that's possible).

Give the poor guy a break--he's obviously mentally challenged. He can barely write a sentence, so he posts links to other people's stuff to avoid exposing his ignorance. Kinda pathetic really--more deserving of pity than scorn.

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10 Re: How Power Profits From Disaster on 7/10/2017, 4:13 pm

gatorfan wrote:
del.capslock wrote:It's the Republican way:


Dailykos huh? Yawn. Maybe the R's are just inept when it comes to covering up criminal activity......I hear HRC is hosting a clinic on that subject in the near future. Probably at Goldman Sachs.....

CAN YOU BELIEVE THE DEMS WERE SO STUPID AND INCOMPETENT THAT THEY LOST A RIGGED ELECTION?

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11 Re: How Power Profits From Disaster on 7/10/2017, 5:15 pm

IMASOCK wrote:CAN YOU BELIEVE THE DEMS WERE SO STUPID AND INCOMPETENT THAT THEY LOST A RIGGED ELECTION?


Rigged for Trump by his suck-buddies in the Kremlin.

Look up the popular vote, you twit.

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12 Re: How Power Profits From Disaster on 7/10/2017, 5:16 pm

del.capslock wrote:
IMASOCK wrote:CAN YOU BELIEVE THE DEMS WERE SO STUPID AND INCOMPETENT THAT THEY LOST A RIGGED ELECTION?


Rigged for Trump by his suck-buddies in the Kremlin.

Look up the popular vote, you twit.

We don't go by popular vote according to the Constitution. If anyone has buddies in the Kremlin, it is Herr Hillary with her uranium deal she gave the Russkies.

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13 Re: How Power Profits From Disaster on 7/10/2017, 5:21 pm

IMASOCK wrote:
del.capslock wrote:
IMASOCK wrote:CAN YOU BELIEVE THE DEMS WERE SO STUPID AND INCOMPETENT THAT THEY LOST A RIGGED ELECTION?


Rigged for Trump by his suck-buddies in the Kremlin.

Look up the popular vote, you twit.

We don't go by popular vote according to the Constitution. If anyone has buddies in the Kremlin, it is Herr Hillary with her uranium deal she gave the Russkies.

Anyone that uses the word "Herr", a German form of address, in the same sentence with mention of "buddies in the Kremlin" is too ignorant of history to be taken seriously.

Pathetic.

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14 Re: How Power Profits From Disaster on 7/10/2017, 5:23 pm

Trump's greatest accomplishment thus far is denying Cankles the Presidency and allowing Democrats to expand Obama's destruction of the country.

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15 Re: How Power Profits From Disaster on 7/10/2017, 5:35 pm

IMASOCK wrote:Trump's greatest accomplishment thus far is denying Cankles the Presidency and allowing Democrats to expand Obama's destruction of the country.

White Nationalist Party talkingpoint... lol.

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16 Re: How Power Profits From Disaster on 7/10/2017, 5:49 pm

IMASOCK wrote:Trump's greatest accomplishment thus far is denying Cankles the Presidency and allowing Democrats to expand Obama's destruction of the country.

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17 Re: How Power Profits From Disaster on 7/10/2017, 6:46 pm

http://nypost.com/2017/07/05/uncovering-the-russia-ties-of-hillarys-campaign-chief/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2017/06/01/hypocritical-russian-ties-tellusatoday/102396330/

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/us/cash-flowed-to-clinton-foundation-as-russians-pressed-for-control-of-uranium-company.html

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