Hurricane Harvey

I said some things on twitter about the policy response to Hurricane Harvey that I hope to see. For starters, I am grateful to share information that will be useful for survivors. Here are some places to donate:

Texas Diaper Bank

Portlight: Inclusive Disaster Strategies

This listing on NPR’s website outlines more, including food banks, blood donations, and philanthropic organizations that make investments on the ground.

After Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Wilma, there were tax policy changes. Read about them here. You might recall seeing questions about housing people displaced by these storms on your own tax documents during the past several years.

There were also field hearings with testimony from locals and affected persons in the years shortly thereafter. Read some of the material below, and consider how people and institutions responded to the needs articulated at the time.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita: Outstanding Need, Slow Progress

Right now, we have an unusually incompetent and inhumane government. I’m heartened by accounts from people checking in on themselves and each other in the Houston area who are safe. I’m also encouraged at the sight of people rescuing pets, because that tells me these people are making it up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to a sufficient degree that their own immediate survival is secure. Plus, we’re the ones who put animals in these situations, so it makes sense to me that we get them out when we can.

Because neoliberalism, it’s extremely difficult to locate anything more than human, sustainable, queer, or whatever among the desirable solutions to spectacular, immediate problems. I concede that. What’s left, besides what I can do myself, are unanswered questions: is this part of the reason for having a boat? Is there anything that finance capital can do at a time like this–I’m thinking in particular that finance relies on its ability to seize incredibly tiny contingencies and move money at inhuman speed. So is this a good space for micro-finance? Isn’t this a good time to extend free credit/no-interest loans, to people on the ground? It’s more efficient to intervene directly at the unmet need, to mitigate the cause of suffering itself, than to rationalize it after the fact. At least that’s how I feel. And postal banking might be especially helpful now, as a way to ensure that people who are already suffering the most from being unbanked get their needs met.  It’s not like it’s all that much easier under unspectacular conditions, but right now in particular, people are struggling in ways that have just dipped from disadvantage to impossibility.

So, I’m not particularly bound up in the dilemma inherent in addressing the demand to the places where power is vested right now (governing apparatus, banks with money, people with boats), and finding the right ethos later.