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The US Economy after Katrina

Tuesday, September 30, 2008 by Dave Winer.

If you want to get an idea how terribly wrong things can go, look at New Orleans after Katrina. We didn't want to look there. I made myself look, I went to New Orleans in December 2005, and saw a city largely in ruin. I saw sections of the city that had burned where no one came to put the fire out. I visited middle class neighborhoods I lived in as a college student that had been reduced to ruin. I wanted to get a first-hand look at post-Apocalypse America. That is the accurate way to view it, it is not overly dramatic. Permalink to this paragraph

A picture named thinkUsa.gif Permalink to this paragraph

The United States is horribly vulnerable now. We weren't able to bring back one of our greatest cities. It's hard to understand why this isn't front and center in people's consciousness. Maybe it's too grim to look at. But the danger of not looking is that you wouldn't recognize the symptoms when the problem grew, as it was sure to. And it has. Permalink to this paragraph

Fact is the people who run this place aren't qualified to run it. No one is. You can see that the legislators have basically no idea how the economy works, yet they make decisions that determine where trillions of dollars flow. The Secretary of the Treasury, a banker, has no idea how the legislative process works, and even harder to accept, doesn't have a basic understanding of the Constitution, how the three branches of government work.  Permalink to this paragraph

Yet we desperately need them to not only understand their own jobs, but how their jobs relate to others. They don't. We've got a government full of Brownies, dressing for the part, but not remotely prepared to do the job.  Permalink to this paragraph

So the NY Times today says the voters rebelled because no one from Washington explained to them what was going on. Folks, that's just the tip of the tip of the problem. They couldn't explain it because they themselves needed to have it explained to them.  Permalink to this paragraph

Meanwhile the monkeys who call themselves The Right are preparing to blame the moderator of Thursday's debate for the gross incompetence of the Republican candidate for VP. Someone needs to yank their chain, hard, and wake them up. That game is over. Everyone knows. No one is fooled.  Permalink to this paragraph

BTW, I took pictures of the devastation in New Orleans and Gulfport/Biloxi. Have a look. This might be coming to your life soon. People who were banking in New Orleans went to their ATM and found their accounts were gone. Did you know that St Paul police arrested reporters at the Republican Convention this summer because they were covering demonstrations? How was that covered up? As the Times said, it gets really bad when trust is gone. Right now there's the tiniest frailest thread of trust left, because we've seen the system work, sort of, when no one understood how all the pieces fit together. It still basically is working. But it wouldn't take much to knock it all down. Permalink to this paragraph

When I visited New Orleans and considered how it could come back to life, and how long it would take, I realized something that you don't see when living your day to day life. It took a lot of time and belief to build up the momentum that drives our civilization. Once the wheels stop turning it takes just as long to get them going again, maybe longer because you have to deal with the wreckage that spewn all over the landscape. Look at those pictures and extrapolate. Imagine your neighborhood looked like that. That was the United States of America, our country. Think. Permalink to this paragraph


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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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