New Orleans & Its Herd

A practical and helpful (and pack-like) approach comes from a surprising source: Move-on is matching homes with the homeless. (via Insta)

On the other hand, Free Will demonstrates what happens when herd mentality reaches the top:

Gov. Kathleen Blanco, standing beside the mayor at a news conference, said President Bush called and personally appealed for a mandatory evacuation for the low-lying city, which is prone to flooding.

This may explain why the evacuation notice came after the declaration of a disaster area. Nor was it only the Governor and the mayor who appear to have waited for someone else to make the decisions.

Free Will quotes from a CNN story:

An angry Terry Ebbert, head of New Orleans’ emergency operations, watched the slow exodus from the Superdome and said the Federal Emergency Management Agency response was inadequate….”FEMA has been here three days, yet there is no command and control,” Ebbert said. “We can send massive amounts of aid to tsunami victims, but we can’t bail out the city of New Orleans.”

As Free Will observes, this is a strange complaint:

Ebbert is the New Orleans head of Homeland Security, appointed by Mayor Nagin. He’s supposed to be command and control, yet there he was complaining that no one was doing his job for him.

Some of you have found fault with Monday morning quarterbacking and you are probably right. But I couldn’t resist: these three reactions (of the governor, the mayor and the NO Homeland secruity chief) fit so well into Reynolds’ definition of the “herd” and the “pack” And they also serve as a cautionary tale we need to think of often: how poorly New Orleans was served by those it elected and how poorly we are all served by bureaucrats who see their function as critics of others and not as responsible leaders. And how poorly, in the end, the “herd” mentality works in catastrophes.

7 thoughts on “New Orleans & Its Herd”

  1. I think we are seeing the political variant of “learned helplessness” In individuals “learned helplessness” is a condition caused by a person being continually frustrated when they try to act until they reach the point that they believe that they actually can’t take positive action in any circumstance.

    It seems that the politicians of Louisiana have such a strong mindset that all real action comes from the Federal level that they reacted with total passivity in face of the disaster.

  2. I wonder if anybody thought to ask Ebbert how soon FEMA was actually supposed to show up according to existing planning?

    It seems to me that everybody is upset that an entire edifice of command and control, personnel and supplies didn’t materialize the day after the hurricane. FEMA has never been intended as the first responder to a disaster. They have always been in charge of secondary and long term relief.

  3. I’m not sure that the term ‘herd mentality’ applies here. There were more than enough criminals in the city to make trust towards strangers a dangerous proposition. Under these circumstances a ‘we are all in this together’ attitude simply can’t exist.

  4. Gaaaah! Next someone will be complaining because Bush didn’t jump on Air Force one, parachute into New Orleans, grab a fire ax and storm New Orleans housing projects to evacuate little old ladies down twenty flights of stairs on his own back!

    Maureen Dowd might write…. the moral authority of a grieving member of the Louisiana political machine is Absolute! Oliver Stone, JFK, New Orleans, Texas, Murder… sound familiar yet?! The Bush Administration can no longer escape the burden of the escalating death toll caused by their failure to predict Weather! How many Natural Disasters will it take to convince “flyover” America that Natural Disasters, President Bush, and Radical Federalist Judge Roberts are all in the same sentence!!!… heh.

    The NYT op page economist might write… $4 gallons of oil are here to stay, thanks to the short sighted policies of the Bush administration, and Natural Disasters. If not for the Bush tax cuts the average Labor Day vacation to the Hamptons, taken as an undefined multiple of the CBO’s Hurricane fund allocation in proportion to the Lousiania Insurance industry estimate of the ultimate costs of this Administrations failure to control the weather, clearly proves that the Bush Depression is worse than the White House will neither confirm nor deny. European economist Fredrick Engles taught that…

    However does the Democrat PR apparatus justify its funding? They can’t even come up with interesting or new slander!

  5. It is all I can do to keep myself from deescending into the criticism maelstrom, from the contemptability of those whose first instinct is to political advantage to those whose last instinct is leadership, but I tend more to agree with those who say that can wait. In that vein, it would seem none too early to begin to think what it will take to reconstruct that area and the opportunities that provides. A huge population of uprooted, essentially (and literally) homeless people now reside in makeshift shelters with nothing to occupy their minds, their hands or their spirits. The State of LA is on the downhill side of an avalanche of money. It would seem a good time to establish a monster training program for people that would focus on skills to reconstruct their homes, their cities and their lives. It could cover the gamut from GED’s to tradecraft to administrative/business skills to technical skills and beyond. Much of this education work could be done on a contract basis and could begin immediately, set up and controlled by LA and performed in the locations where the displaced now reside. This type of help could easily be the most lasting and valuable result of the disaster and could help lead people back to the self-sufficiency that seems to be in seriously short supply.

  6. “Much of this education work could be done on a contract basis and could begin immediately, set up and controlled by LA and performed in the locations where the displaced now reside”

    If it’s set up and controlled by LA, it will be a complete waste of time and money.

    Most of these people have already been through schools set up and controlled by LA. Their time there was completely wasted. Subjecting them to yet more schools set up and controlled by LA isn’t going to accomplish anything.

  7. O.K., then, set up by some entity that can get the job done. The point is, according to the continuous TV reports many, if not most, of these people are poor and un (or under)-educated. They have been jolted out of their previous existance for good or ill. Perhaps this is the time for them to make a change in their lives that will have long-lasting results. If the complaint is that they are poor because of a lack of skills or jobs, one of those will certainly be available in the very near future and the other could and should be. I will guarantee that with the level of monetary aid that will soon explode into this situation, more will be lost through the cracks than this type of proposal will cost.

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