Meanwhile, in New Orleans, where, undoubtedly, many of those nearly 46 million Americans without health insurance were left without means of leaving the doomed city.
People who think of that graceful city and the rest of the Mississippi Delta as tourist destinations must have been reminded, watching the rescue operations, that the real residents of this area are in the main poor and black. The only resources most of them will have to fall back on will need to come from the federal government.
Nevertheless, there are some with so little empathy for their fellow Americans...fellow human beings...it shocks even a Fox News host.
NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Forget insurance. My next guest says not one taxpayer dollar should go toward rebuilding the city of New Orleans (search).
Joining us now is Jack Chambless. He is the economics professor of Valencia Community College in Orlando.
Professor, why do you say that?
JACK CHAMBLESS, ECONOMICS PROFESSOR, VALENCIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE: Well, if we look at Article One, Section Eight of the United States Constitution (search) â€” and I encourage all Americans to look at that before we start opening up our tax coffers to pay for all of this â€” we have every obligation to provide for New Orleans in terms of charity, private charity from one person to the other.
But the founding fathers never intended, Article One, section Eight of the Constitution, never intended to provide one dollar of taxpayer dollars to pay for any disaster or anything that we might call charity. What we now have is the law of unintended consequences taking place, where FEMA (search) has come into New Orleans, a place where, ecologically, it makes no sense to have levees keeping the Mississippi River (search) from flooding into New Orleans, like it naturally should.
Now with FEMA bailing out Louisiana, bailing out Florida and lowering the overall cost of living in these places, we have people with no incentive to leave. And the law of unintended consequences means that more people are dying with every one of these storms. They're becoming more and more expensive, more and more property loss, just because the federal government has violated the Constitution to provide for these funds.
CAVUTO: Yes, but, Professor, if you have your way, then, these areas will just be the domain of the well-to-do, right?
CHAMBLESS: No, no, not at all.
I mean, people of modest means lived in the Bayou, they lived along the coast of Florida long before the government got involved. But they assumed personal responsibility for their decisions. They paid for insurance. They paid the market premium for insurance.
CAVUTO: Yes, but those insurance companies, Jack, have left. They're not insuring these people anymore, right?
CHAMBLESS: Some of them have left. I'm a resident of Florida. We still have insurance in the state of Florida. It's become more expensive.
CAVUTO: No, wait. To be clear, I know your state well, and there are some areas where that is simply not offered.
CHAMBLESS: Right. But that's part of the cost.
You shouldn't have to compel the insurance companies or force them. They are a private for-profit business. If they believe the risks are too high and the probability of incurring losses are too great, nobody should force them to underwrite policies there. But, if we look at what the insurance companies are also doing, in a way, they're able to free ride off of the taxpayers, because they're not responsible for flood insurance.
For Neil Cavuto to be shocked into actually showing some empathy for the poor is a real feat. But keep in mind, only Fox News would rush to find a lunatic like this in the first place and put him and his views on the air.
I've only been in New Orleans once and didn't care much for it. It was winter. I was with other people who weren't really "into it (they lived in Baton Rouge, which has a very different vibe)." But what I really found depressing was the bone crushing poverty that pervaded the city. The poverty is almost one of the "attractions" the city offered tourists. I felt that everyone except for the tourists and those in the wealthy enclaves was living hand to mouth.
These people now have nothing. Nothing. And no amount of private insurance could have covered what they've lost.
These people didn't lose their vacation homes. They didn't suffer an annual loss of the roof on a home built too close to the water in Florida or South Carolina, then expect the Feds to pick up the tab.
Katrina and its aftermath is probably the worst natural disaster to hit the United States in 100 years. It hit people hardest who were least able to prepare or evacuate. And this guy goes on TV to say they should rely on the kindness of strangers, to evoke a famous New Orleans figure.
How do people like Chambless sleep at night? Do they have wives, husbands, children? Who could possibly live with them? So many questions.
UPDATE: I don't mean to ignore the residents of Biloxi and the other Gulf cities hammered by Katrinia, whose residents are equally poor.