I certainly feel for the people still in New Orleans (here is a story to break your heart–but there are so many), but I want to quote from a Canadian blog that places at least some of the blame for some of the helplessness on federal programs, intended to help but nevertheless crippling. This is tough stuff, but I think we need to confront it:

“However: one of the reasons poor people are poor is because they can’t or won’t plan further ahead than tomorrow, next week, or next month (when the cheque comes in) at the most. Those stuck in New Orleans are, according to reports I’ve heard, most likely lifelong recipients of public assistance. The government is ‘supposed’ to help them, and do so immediately and immaculately. Resourcefulness, self-restraint, a sense of their own and other people’s inherent dignity — these things have been eroded as surely as the coastline.

“This isn’t true of everyone, obviously. Fats Domino is missing; he insisted on riding out the storm. Can Fats Domino not afford bus or even cab fare all the way to Texas? Please. No, this is a cultural thing: the prevailing attitude in the city has always been one of casualness to the point of passivity. ‘Whatever. Let’s stick around and party’ — I don’t doubt those were the last words of hundreds.”

If federal programs are crippling, looters kill. Mona Charen has today’s toughest column on looting.

No matter who is ultimately responsible the people of New Orleans are in need. This is a time when writing a check, a check written by an individual who knows better than a bureaucracy what is needed, will help immensely.