Where is the perspective?

Anderson Cooper was in New Orleans last night as part of CNN’s “Keeping them Honest.” They did pieces on the levees and pumps, the apparent suicide of one of the NOPD officers involved in a widely publicized post-K police brutality case, the 100 unclaimed remains of Katrina victims still waiting in a NOLA warehouse for burial, crime in NOLA and a piece on FEMA trailers returned to that agency, vandalized and “trashed.”

I’ve seen the FEMA trailer story repeated twice this morning. Now I do commend Cooper and CNN for returning to NOLA. So it is hard to be critical. At least they are doing that. But is it too much to ask for more and some perspective in this?

Keep in mind, in the FEMA trailer piece it was reported that “FEMA officials say nearly 10 percent of them came back unfit to use again.” Less than TEN Percent. So 90% of folks who have returned trailers (and many in NOLA are still living in trailers) took care of them. But CNN hooked up with FEMA to get video of a trailer with bullet holes in it and another with fixtures stripped out. Got to show that video.

Cooper reminded America at the beginning of the piece that FEMA trailers were paid for by taxpayers…”That was your money, all of our money.”

If the concern is taxpayers’ money how about a piece on the multi BILLION dollar fraud case against insurance companies who allegedly passed and then inflated flood damage claims onto the now bankrupt National Flood Insurance Program while their profits soared. That was your money too. Or what about the mess of the Road Home program.Again your money. That’s Billions of taxpayers money in those two important stories alone. Instead America will hear ad nauseam about a small minority of NOLA residents who messed up their trailers.

Given everything that is going wrong with Gulf Coast recovery it is disheartening to think too many Americans will probably only remember the sensational FEMA trailer story.

UPDATE: I see Harry Shearer at HuffPo also asks for some perspective on this

What wasn’t included: the dollar value of the damage (just to compare
with, say, the money drained off the recovery by the Army Corp’s
five-tier subcontractor structure) and, most crucially, a comparison
with, just to pick a state, Florida, after Hurricane Andrew. Without
such comparative measures, this story–like so much TV
coverage–registers as “never before”. If such vandalism had occurred
in previous disasters, of course, this would register as far less of a
story, and hence, far less worth three minutes of air time.

8 thoughts on “Where is the perspective?

  1. I’m sorry, but when white guys who work in tall office buildings steal money from the taxpayers, it is NOT news.
    When someone puts a bullet hole in a trailer, it IS news.
    Thank you.

  2. I remember hearing stories about FEMA trailers that were leaking a poisonous gas or had other dangerous issues with them. I have to ask how many of those 10% “unfit to use” trailers were returned BECAUSE they were unfit to start with, and then deployed anyway?
    Scout, do you remember the story about the bad FEMA trailers? I’m pretty sure it was one of yours.

  3. Dorothy…yes there is a problem with formaldehyde levels as well as a number of them catching fire.
    I wonder what rendered them unusable. Stripping them of fixtures is not ok IMO. But I’ve been in a FEMA trailer and they are really cheaply made. It wouldn’t take much just wear and tear to damage them given that. Especially if you have a family of 4 or 5 or more in one of them for months or a year. They really are not made for that.
    I wonder what type of damage we’re talking about with that 10%.

  4. Almost 10% of statistics are misleading. One thing that drove me nuts was the statistic about how they were being sold for half of what they cost new.
    First, even spotless trailers are one of the worst investments imaginable. Trailers are about the same as computers. Onced used their value goes down dramatically.
    Secondly, with all these trailers available, it makes them less valuable on the secondary market because of excess supply in relation to demand.

  5. trifecta…I found the average price for trailers sold after Hurricane Andrew use was only $1100. And as you say there are even more trailers to be auctioned now
    Like Shearer said some comparison gives the perspective

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