Some people were too poor to get out of New Orleans.

Jane Galt knows the difference between someone too stubborn to heed a warning and someone to poor to be able to evacuate, and too poor to be able to afford the loss of all his possessions.

Alas, the political hack now running FEMA doesn’t. Anyway, what’s he doing spending time in front of the cameras blaming the victims? Doesn’t he have a relief effort to run?

Update John Cole is eloquent on this point:

… the vast majority of people who are stranded, and, I fear, dead in the flooded parts of NO in numbers we have not yet begun to discover and comprehend, did not ‘choose’ to ‘ignore’ the warnings.

They simply had no place to go, no way to get there, no way to afford living in a motel/hotel somewhere else, no relatives outside the region, no automobile. I know it is always funny to make fun of the “Hurricane Strikes- Poor Hit Hardest” headlines, but there is some truth to it.

Sure, a lot of the people interviewed on cable may say they just stayed because they have seen all sorts of hurricanes. They may say that. But I am willing to bet a lot of them are just saying that to save face. Ever been broke? And I mean, chronically, long-term, without ANY money, broke? It sucks, and it can be embarassing, and it isnt likely most people are going to admit it.


So while ignorance, stupidity, and a disregard for warnings may have played a role (probably a more prominent one in the coastal regions of Mississippi and Alabama), I am betting that tragically there is a whole other reason for why people ‘chose’ not to evacuate New Orleans.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com