Haven't they been through enough?
As if losing everything you had in a hurricane, the likes of which devastated the country in unprecedented proportions, wasn’t bad enough, imagine if in the aftermath, the government drug their feet with any kind of emergency aid and relief to the detriment of thousands of people’s lives. Yours, your friends, your families, your neighbors, your fellow people’s lives destroyed and then the plight ignored by those in charge. Your tax dollars at work!
So, you’re angry, you’re feeling lost and cut-off from the world around you, that yesterday seemed warm, safe, inviting, and hopeful. It’s easy to see why you feel this way, but then something happens. Aid and relief arrive (albeit too fucking late for some), and the government that seemed to abandon you is coming to make amends. They start a grant program for housing relief, to provide money to those whom nature took everything from (nature with the help of that same government body who ignored calls for levee repairs long before the storm proved that they were as inadequate as the residents had been claiming all along). Maybe they are finally trying to repair these blatant breaches of trust and understood protection by offering an opportunity for you to re-build. I know it may be hard to imagine some of the finer points, but just stay with me on the gist and we should all arrive at the same place.
So to recap, you were completely jaded by your government, and now things are perhaps starting to look up. This grant program comes in, and drops massive funding on the residents, living out of formaldehyde scented government trailers, and you begin to see the community around you fill once more with hope. Then you get a letter saying that the company contracted out by your government to handle the grant’s financial distribution and operations, well they fucked up to the tune of $175 million! The letter explains that this contracted company (our government couldn’t have handled this themselves naturally, they don’t have the work force, organizational skills, or resources to implement such a massive operation just look at their first attempts at aid in the hurricane ravaged area) working as efficiently as our government would, bureaucratic red tape and all, feels just horribly about your situation and hopes that you sympathize with theirs as well as they ask you to pay back the money that they gave you too much of.
Actually the letter isn’t from them, exactly. Or even from the government that initially got this whole fucked up ball rolling. You see, technically, it’s from the collection agency that the second group hired to get the money back for the first group, who hired them to handle operations in the first place. I hope that’s confusing enough, otherwise you might be focusing on the most pertinent question of the entire situation, and not the distraction of the corporate cock-up clean-up crew unnecessarily pursuing this undertaking. And that question is, haven’t we been through enough?
We can drop the imagination game now, because if you haven’t figured it out yet, this is actually happening to some of the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The company our government buddied the job off to, is seeking collection companies who can accommodate such a large order. They are seeking to recollect the excess $175 million they mistakenly dispensed. An amount, by their own admission, that is only a mere 4% error rate that should easily be accepted as a low margin for such a large federal program. So if it’s such an acceptable margin, why not write it off? Why does the money have to be recollected from the people who’ve suffered this tragedy? With an average collection claim of $35,000 per case. Is this what this community, trying so hard to rebuild right now needs to be concerned with? Collection agency calls harassing, belittling, and berating them for $35,000 they don’t have and whose error of receipt they were not responsible for. The grant evaluators made the judgment errs, not the residents, set to become further victims in this entire debacle of bureaucracy. Set, once again, to become angry, feeling lost and cut-off from the world around them, that yesterday was finally seeming to be warm, safe, inviting, and hopeful!
It was nicer in the realm of imagination wasn’t it? It was easier to swallow as a hypothetical. Not a realization of the world that you actually live in. The world where people won’t actually extended a kindness without hopes of a greater return. Or at least some kind of return. A world where communities no longer come together and rise up against the Legislative Corporate Conglomerate Money Machine in order to protect the stability and recovery of all of those around them. They can’t. That ability has been long taken from them. The world where money, even the American dollar with it’s declining value, has more worth, than the reconstruction of the American city, the American life, the American dream!
Haven’t they been through enough?