Hurricane Katrina: A Compelling Call "To Do Justice, Love Kindness, and to Walk Humbly"

From: "Joe Volk" <joevolk@fcnl.org>

Legislative Action Message Friends Committee on National Legislation

Hurricane Katrina: A Compelling Call "To Do Justice, Love Kindness, and to Walk Humbly" (Micah 6:8) - FCNL

As the fourth anniversary of the September 11 attacks approaches, the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are facing a disaster of far greater proportions: Hurricane Katrina. Thousands are feared dead. Hundreds of thousands are homeless. Most of New Orleans remains submerged under toxic, bacteria infested, disease-laden floodwater. The regional economy, upon which the country depends for much of its energy and international trade, has been brought to a standstill. It will take many years of intensive, costly effort for the region to recover. Follow this link to help meet the needs of those affected now.

After painful delays, aid is flowing now into the stricken region.

Yet, beyond the devastation, Katrina has left in its wake many troubling questions about federal budget and policy priorities and about the capacity of the federal government to carry out its primary function – to “establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare. . .” The disaster has laid bare the devastating impact of decades of misplaced priorities that have favored the rich over the poor, marginalized communities of color, failed to address a growing energy crisis, and wasted hundreds of billions on war and preparations for war. Warnings ignored: For years now, why has the federal government ignored warnings that New Orleans was at high risk of being devastated by a major hurricane and ignored local and state appeals for assistance to restore wetlands, strengthen levees, and take other measures to reduce the threat? Has it been too distracted by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? And by the demands to spend more and more on “military security?” No eyes to see: As the hurricane approached, why was so little done to assure the health and safety of the poor, the institutionalized, the infirm and those without access to private transportation? Why weren’t city buses and school buses mobilized to transport people out of harm’s way? What was done to evacuate those who do not read or watch the news, who do not trust public officials, who have no place to go, or who are elderly or disabled shut-ins? Did our national officials not have eyes to see the most vulnerable people? Billions for security or for profit?: After the hurricane hit, why was the federal response so slow and ineffective in the crucial first days? After spending tens of billions on homeland security, why couldn’t the federal government do better than this? Where has the money gone? Evidently not to rapid responses to aid people in harms way. Human security too late: Why does it take a devastating hurricane to get the government to finally provide food, health care, shelter, and public safety to people long-afflicted by poverty, hunger, inadequate health care and housing, and unemployment? Will the government now give greater priority to addressing similar concerns in communities across the country where basic human needs continue to go unmet? Energy policies put us at risk: Why hasn’t the federal government done more to reduce U.S. dependence on oil (and thus, U.S. vulnerability to economic disruption and environmental degradation) when viable alternatives exist? Will the federal government provide increased emergency energy assistance to the poor and working poor across the country who are burdened the most by sky-rocketing gasoline and heating fuel prices? Wars that weaken the U.S.: To what degree have the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan undermined the capacity of the federal government to respond to national emergencies and meet basic human needs?

We urge Congress and the administration to consider these questions in the months ahead. We urge them to shift federal budget and policy priorities away from a bleak future of perpetual war toward taking away the occasion for war through the peaceful prevention of deadly conflict, meeting basic human needs at home and abroad, advancing human rights, and reducing the U.S. and world’s dangerous, harmful dependence on oil.

But viewing this crisis just days before the fourth anniversary of September 11, we are reminded that in the days following those heinous attacks the president had an historic opportunity to chart a new course in U.S. foreign policy, one dedicated to advancing the rule of law internationally, peacefully preventing deadly conflict, and cooperatively addressing the root causes of violent extremism. It was a rare opportunity to respond to a grievous wrong with restraint, justice, kindness, and humility.

Instead, President Bush, with the support of Congress, chose the rule of force, war, unilateralism, and threats. President Bush and Congress missed that opportunity at a time when the world was ready to unite with the U.S. in common cause and good will. The ensuing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have diverted resources away from addressing vital human security needs at home and abroad.

Today, Hurricane Katrina presents another similar opportunity to transform our nation’s budget and policy priorities to address the needs of the poor and vulnerable at home and abroad; to bring an end to the costly, depleting, and devastating wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; and to accept the good will and assistance of allies and adversaries alike. We urge the President and Congress to seize this moment “to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly.”

Take Action Now

1. You can help meet the needs of those affected now by contributing to the American Friends Service Committee Katrina Relief fund: https://www.donatefast.com/donate/index.cfm?id=afcrisis

2. Please contact your legislators. This is no time for more tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans nor for cutting spending for the poorest Americans. Providing sufficient resources for Medicaid, food stamps, or other programs that serve the poorest and most vulnerable people in our communities should have priority over tax cuts. Urge your members of Congress to oppose more tax cuts for the wealthiest and spending cuts for the poorest when they draft and consider the budget reconciliation bills in September.

The people of the Gulf Coast need the federal government’s help now. So do the millions of people elsewhere around the country who live in deepening poverty and without health care coverage. The deep economic disparity and dismal poverty revealed in New Orleans in the wake of the hurricane can be found in cities, rural areas, Indian reservations across this country. The job of Congress is to promote the “general welfare.” It’s time that Congress got started doing it. Let them know that you, as a taxpayer, are willing to contribute your share.

You can contact your members of Congress and find a sample letter on FCNL’s web site,

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Contact Congress and the Administration: http://capwiz.com/fconl/dbq/officials/

Informant Martin Greenhut


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September 2005

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