Thursday, August 31, 2017

Hurricane Harvey and neoliberal policies, a toxic mix

These two articles give a good glimpse of how the disaster that hurricane/tropical storm Harvey represents is in critical ways a result of the dominance of neoliberal economics and politics in the last four decades. And that's neoliberal in the Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, IFM, Washington Consensus kind of ideology.

Charlie Pierce writes about how We're Nowhere Near Prepared for the Ecological Disaster That Harvey Is Becoming Esquire Politics Blog 08/30/2017:

Once, long ago, the conservative activist Grover Norquist famously said that he wanted to shrink "government" to a size at which it could be drowned in the bathtub. Well, people actually are drowning in Houston now, and so is the political philosophy that reached its height when Ronald Reagan said in his first inaugural that government wasn't the solution, but the problem itself. We all moved onto a political flood plain then, and we're being swept away.

Naomi Klein describes how Harvey Didn't Come Out of the Blue. Now Is the Time To Talk About Climate Change. The Intercept 08/28/2017. And about the kind of "disaster capitalism" policies we can expect from the Trump-Pence Administration in the wake of Harvey:

We live in a world in which the governing powers have shown themselves all too willing to exploit the diversion of a large-scale crisis, and the very fact that so many are focused on life-and-death emergencies, to ram through their most regressive policies, policies that push us further along a road that is rightly understood as a form of “climate apartheid.” We saw it after Hurricane Katrina, when Republicans wasted no time pushing for a fully privatized school system, weakening labor and tax law, increasing oil and gas drilling and refining, and flinging the door open to mercenary companies like Blackwater. Mike Pence was a key architect of that highly cynical project — and we should expect nothing less in Harvey’s wake, now that he and Trump are at the wheel.

We are already seeing Trump using the cover of Hurricane Harvey to push through the hugely controversial pardoning of Joe Arpaio, as well as the further militarization of U.S. police forces. These are particularly ominous moves in the context of news that immigration checkpoints are continuing to operate wherever highways are not flooded (a serious disincentive for migrants to evacuate), as well as in the context of municipal officials tough-talking about maximum penalties for any “looters” (it’s well worth remembering that after Katrina, several African-American residents of New Orleans were shot by police amid this kind of rhetoric.)
Another reminder that, while Mike Pence less erratic and emotionally deranged as Trump, he's also committed to a series of disastrous policies.

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