Via Media

…and an open thread for any Katrina-related topic except natural theology.

1) Earlier today, Jonah Goldberg, whom I admire, posted this at The Corner:

JOKE NO LONGER [Jonah Goldberg ]

Posted at 11:25 AM

Everyone knows the 50 different versions of the joke about the Meteor (apocalypse, whatever) heading to earth and The New York Times (or Washington Post) running the headline: "World Ends: Women, Minorities Hardest Hit."

Here’s ABC News:

Poorest Hit Hardest By Hurricane Katrina

Disaster Disproportionately Affects Those Who Can Least Afford It

Now, I actually spent some time off and on today wondering about this. I couldn’t figure out what he was getting at. Did he mean that the possibility of such a headline wasn’t a joke anymore because a similar headline had made its way into print? Or did he mean that this isn’t funny anymore, that the poor are actually impacted more by disaster? I thought about writing him, I thought about blogging it, but then decided it was kind of minor and who cares.

But then later, he posted this:

OKAY, STRIKE TWO [Jonah Goldberg]

In a real sense the poor do have it worse, as a general proposition. You can’t watch these images and really conclude otherwise. I do think that I am entirely right about the nature of suffering in that it cannot be measured by a simple economic metric. For example, contrary to the grief I give Rich, I make a comfortable living. I don’t think my grief would have been 1/1,000th less had I made ten times as much when my father died. And I don’t think it would have been 1/1,000th more if I made half as much. That was how I saw it. To me measuring such things by an economic calculus seems as grotesque as some people seem to think it is not to.

But, while watching this footage of these poor people with absolutely no place to go and with the prospects of the city being closed for months it’s pretty obvious — as I said — the hardships affecting the poor become more pronounced and disproportionate. Your heart really does have to go out to these poor souls. I still don’t think grief and misery can be measured economically, but as this disaster stretches out over time, it seems impossible to deny that the grief and misery will be extended longer the further down the economic ladder you go. I sympathize for more for a middle class family which has lost everything it worked for than I do for some thug having a grand time smashing a jewelry shop window. But looking at these poor women carrying their kids aimlessly through the muck with no place to go, you have to concede their lot would be much better with the means to find a dry bed at the end of the day.

…and I realized that he actually had intended the first meaning in the first post, a statement he was now backing off from. I’m astonished. I’m astonished that it’s not just common sense that in a material and physical sense, the poor are, naturally going to be impacted more seriously simply because they have fewer resources and safety nets. Is this news? I’m also astonished that Jonah, I suppose in the context of the National Review readership, finds it necessary to go through such contortions to justify his change of heart – to emphasize the common suffering of all in such a situation, but gee, just maybe the poor might have it a little rougher than some others.

Suffering is suffering, and losing your life and loved ones and town is the cause of suffering to rich and poor alike, as well as everyone in between. We are all in the same boat. But to think that it requires any explanation or justification at all to suggest that a person who rents, has no property or health insurance, (and probably more compromised health because of that ), works a minimum wage job, has no savings and maybe even no transportation is probably going to suffer materially and physically more than many others of higher income brackets with more safety nets might…is odd. This does not strike me as rocket science.

The situation all over is terrible, and the reports from New Orleans are getting more desperate and frightening. Bands of looters demanding food from nursing homes, threatening hospitals…this is scary stuff. Get the military in there, faster, get those people OUT of the Superdome…no one expected this, I suppose, and the whole situation in NO is complicated by the misery of a totally disrupted transportation route, but something about this seems wrong and unnecessarily screwed up.

And on an odd, superficial note. Over the years, I’ve spent my fare share of time mocking Shepherd Smith of FOX – oh, he’s not terrible, but you know – the running over the woman who took his parking place thing in Florida was odd, and he’s kind of a cipher – it’s hard to tell sometimes if there’s a brain in that head, or just little cogs. Well, the past couple of days, he’s impressed me. I’ve found his descriptions of what he’s seen, his appeals to viewers, quite heartfelt and affecting and authentic. In that, I can agree with someone at NRO today, but perhaps in not quite as heightened terms. But yes, he’s been good.

As opposed, shockingly enough according to many at NRO (again), to the president…

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