We’re all responsible | AspenTimes.com

We’re all responsible

Dear Editor:Andy Stone (Aspen Times, Sept. 8) is right to wonder whether merely sending money to the Red Cross is a sufficient response to Hurricane Katrina.By all means, we must send money, and offer any other aid we can. But our donations don’t relieve us of the responsibility of facing up to the hard truths stirred up by this tragedy. And the incompetence of the government’s response does not lessen the blame that we all share for what has happened.We, as a society, condone disparities of wealth and privilege, and economic and racial segregation, that would be unthinkable in any other developed country. We tolerate a laissez-faire economic culture that values property over people, and in recent years we’ve acquiesced to the takeover of our nation by greedy robber barons who are systematically dismantling our social safety net and transferring the public’s wealth to their cronies.So we all bear the shame of the every-man-for-himself evacuation of New Orleans, in which people with cars were able to drive out of town and the rest were abandoned to their fate. This is how we do things in America. It is shocking, it is ugly, it is immoral. We are all accountable for the extra misery and death caused by the federal government’s mishandling of the emergency, because a majority of us voted for these clowns, and the rest of us failed to call bulls— on their specious criticisms of “big government” and their strategy of starving essential government services of funds.We all share responsibility for the toxic mess of fuel and chemicals now fouling the floodwaters, because all of us in this country use far, far more than our fair share of fossil fuels, and we are so willfully ignorant of the tremendous environmental damage (and risk) being borne by other people in other places so that we can keep enjoying our happy hydrocarbon lifestyle.Because of our appetite for fossil fuels, every one of us had a hand in pumping the oil and gas out from underneath the Mississippi Delta, thus lowering the barrier islands and wetlands that historically protected the area from storm surges.And every one of us, to the extent that we use oil or coal or natural gas, helped make Hurricane Katrina bigger and more destructive. It is our greenhouse-gas emissions that are warming the atmosphere and oceans, thus increasing the intensity of hurricanes by 50 percent in the past 50 years, according to a recent MIT study.I don’t mean to be preachy, but these are the issues I’m struggling with these days.Dave ReedCarbondale