May 01, 2007

THE BLAME PATTERN, plus stuff on Hurricane Katrina and "Mission Accomplished"

Caption: I blame them. Why do you think they call them "scapegoats" anyway?

Note: this post is loosely related to yesterday's. If this is your first visit, please click on the previous entry.

As the eminent Wobbly philosopher Utah Philips once said, a common political dynamic of our time is the fact that “the blame pattern has been manipulated.”

That is to say that people take out the anger over very real social grievances not on the people who actually cause and profit by them—who tend to be wealthy and powerful—but rather on the people immediately below or slightly above them in social standing.

You can fill in the blanks. The convenient target could be welfare mothers, people receiving Medicaid, immigrants, uppity union workers wanting better pay or benefits, injured workers trying to get some justice, someone paying for groceries with food stamps, women, ethnic or religious minorities, etc.

Admittedly, not everyone in those target populations is a model of civic virtue. But it’s also a lot easier and less risky to kick people who can’t kick back.

This dynamic typically keeps people who have common interests from working together and ultimately benefits dominant groups. It’s the old divide and rule. The sad part is we do it to ourselves. This led one social theorist to comment that “domination is perpetuated by the dominated.”

In other words, the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves that we are underlings…

SPEAKING OF GOAT ROPES, the Washington Post reported Sunday that the Bush administration didn't accept or otherwise blew most of the $854 million in aid offered from other countries:

Allies offered $854 million in cash and in oil that was to be sold for cash. But only $40 million has been used so far for disaster victims or reconstruction, according to U.S. officials and contractors. Most of the aid went uncollected, including $400 million worth of oil. Some offers were withdrawn or redirected to private groups such as the Red Cross. The rest has been delayed by red tape and bureaucratic limits on how it can be spent.

In addition, valuable supplies and services -- such as cellphone systems, medicine and cruise ships -- were delayed or declined because the government could not handle them. In some cases, supplies were wasted.

The struggle to apply foreign aid in the aftermath of the hurricane, which has cost U.S. taxpayers more than $125 billion so far, is another reminder of the federal government's difficulty leading the recovery. Reports of government waste and delays or denials of assistance have surfaced repeatedly since hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck in 2005.

Heck of a job.

"MISSION ACCOMPLISHED." What more can one say? Maybe this:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Iraq's sectarian warfare fueled a sharp increase in global terrorism in 2006, the U.S. State Department reported Monday.

The total number of terrorist attacks was up more than 25 percent from the previous year, according to the State Department's annual report on global terrorism.

Incidents in Iraq accounted for nearly half of the 14,000 attacks and about two-thirds of the more than 20,000 fatalities worldwide. The number of deaths blamed on attacks increased by about 40 percent.


No comments: