by Michael Vining
(Editor's Note: "From Your Perspective" is a column that appears occasionally. Its contents vary from technology to religion, from internal goings-on to items of concern in the blindness field in general. The opinions expressed are those of the authors, not those of the American Council of the Blind, its staff or elected officials. "The Braille Forum" cannot be held responsible for the opinions expressed herein.)
I am writing this article because, like many of you, I was saddened by the destruction that Hurricane Katrina wrought on New Orleans. We had just been visiting that city for the American Blind Bowling Association's annual bowling tournament back on Memorial Day weekend. We had a very good time there eating the best food and hearing many different types of music being played live and recorded from the bars and restaurants all over.
The question that comes to my mind is this: If the Big Easy is rebuilt, where should it be? Right where it is or more above sea level? President Bush told the nation in his speech on Sept. 15 that the country will rebuild this great city, along with the rest of the Gulf Coast damaged by this category 4 hurricane. As of now, the cost of doing this may be close to $200 billion.
All of us have one question: How are we going to pay for this? One way is to raise taxes. That could, in my opinion, slow down the U.S. economy. On the other hand, not raising taxes for this effort could bring on a great deficit. We could deal with this in the future, or let our children and grandchildren deal with it.
The President's plan seems to be spend the money and cut other programs to finance it. So which programs and services should we cut? Somehow, I don't think we will have the great discussion on this issue that we should have.
How do blind people figure in this? What programs and services do we wish to sacrifice for the good of rebuilding the Gulf Coast? How do the blind fare in hurricane areas when there is an impending storm? Do we flee? How do we flee? Or do we stay where we are? I live in Minnesota, where we do not have this problem. I asked Paul Edwards, who lives in Florida, about this. He said, "We board up everything and pray." I guess it's up to God.
At the beginning of my political awareness, I was a raving liberal; now, some 40 to 45 years later, I am more conservative. I have no answers, just some ideas.
- Have the feds take over all building of the Gulf Coast, and administer it, and get profits from all new homes sold, and new business development.
- Make the areas of New Orleans that were not flooded an island, and build the city in areas above sea level.
- Rebuild New Orleans as it is, but make the levees higher and better fortified than in the past.
The mayor of New Orleans thinks casinos would be nice. I suppose we could have a southern Las Vegas, right? Whatever happens, our country will be affected. Future spending decisions will be affected as well.