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America vs. The World

The big trouble with dumb bastards is that they are too dumb to believe there is such a thing as being smart. — Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Goddamn those conniving Katrina evacuees!

This is what is takes to get Congress outraged and off its ass about misspending? Seriously?
Lawmakers expressed outrage Wednesday over a federal audit report that debit cards handed out to hurricane victims last year were used to buy such items as a $200 bottle of champagne from Hooters and $300 worth of "Girls Gone Wild" videos.
Something like $50 billion was distributed to private companies in Iraq with little-to-no oversight, and a large chunk of it is unaccounted for. But some Katrina evacuee spending $400 on gold chains is "an affront to the American taxpayer"?

Don't get me wrong, government waste is always a bad thing. Thousands went wanting for necessities, and some are still homeless, while others have had government cash to splurge. There surely could have been better oversight of how aid was distributed and what it was spent on.

But are we seriously calling them "these criminals"? Someone who has lost everything they own and been displaced to a foreign city isn't exactly thinking rationally, and I'm not going to judge them if they thought some booze and porn was what they needed to cope. Who knows what the hell I might have spent that money on if Chicago had, I don't know, burned to the ground. I'm not exactly responsible with my income right now.

And, more to the point, it's not like these people are living high on the hog right now, whatever they chose to spend the money on at the time. You think anyone who lost all their worldly possessions last September is walking around with a bunch of diamond rings? Shit, even those Girls Gone Wild videos got sold back in March.

Call it racism, classism, whatever — you can see Rep. Michael McCaul just aching to break out a few "welfare queen" comments. The government can waste taxpayers' money by the billions, but God forbid a member of the underclass should engage in a little misspending of their own.


Blogger Josh Rohrscheib said...

I'm still struck by how much the Katrina footage seems like a 3rd world country and still mortified that America, who S Mero rightly gives a #1 seed, could bungle anything so badly with so many lives on the line.

Buck, thanks for pointing out the hypocracy.

Blogger Mandasaurus said...

If the federal government didn't want people to be free to buy whatever they needed (wanted, whatever) then why didn't they make stipulations on the freaking debit cards?

Congress and the USDA impose heaps of limits on what poor mothers can by with WIC money (a version of food stamps). You can get lots of milk and dried beans, but no vodka. Certainly Katrina Debit Cards could work like this if the government wanted them to. But hmmm... they don't seem to care. Shocking.

"We can have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few but we can't have both." Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

Blogger Buck B. said...

Good point, Amanda. You'd think that conservatives, who have a rather dim view of human nature in general, would make sure those kind of limitations were put in place.

Then again, it's much more satisfying to give them unrestricted cash so you can criticize their spending choices later on.

Anonymous toothpick said...

What about the $300 tax cuts GWB gave us a few years back? I'm sure if the GOVT tracked what happened with that money (maybe the NSA knows!) it would breakdown something like this: booze 35%, hookers 10%, drugs 30% (my favorite), the latest iPod 15%, and bets made on online Poker or lottery scratch-offs 10%. So conservatives shouldn't worry about what these Kat-refugees purchased with their debit cards because they helped spur on the ECONOMY and shouldn’t be looked at as criminals but as typical Americans doing what Americans do best, spend money! I wish I was a refugee or Haliburton, I'd buy a Sony PSP or a small island in the Caribbean...

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Jeff Goldstein is a wanker.