Saturday, November 3, 2007

How The Wealthy Survive Disasters

Have you ever heard of companies like HelpJet, Sovereign Deed or Firebreak Spray Systems?

Neither had I until I read Naomi Klein's recent
article for "The Nation".

In her article, "Rapture Rescue 911: Disaster Response for the Chosen", Naomi tells us of the wonderful services that these firms can provide in the case of a natural or man-made disaster.

Just think, no more waiting for FEMA to come to the rescue. There's only one caveat. You have to be able to afford their services.

You see, these private emergency response firms provide services like fire-fighting, post disaster evacuation, food and shelter to paying customers only.

Just like the elite of the Cold War era believed that a well-designed, well-stocked backyard bomb shelter would save them from a nuclear strike, today's elite believe that the new private disaster response firms will save them from everything from terrorists to global warming. In some ways, they are correct.

As Ms. Klein points out in her article:

Just look at what is happening in Southern California. Even as wildfires devoured whole swaths of the region, some homes in the heart of the inferno were left intact, as if saved by a higher power. But it wasn't the hand of God; in several cases it was the handiwork of Firebreak Spray Systems. Firebreak is a special service offered to customers of insurance giant American International Group (AIG)--but only if they happen to live in the wealthiest ZIP codes in the country. Members of the company's Private Client Group pay an average of $19,000 to have their homes sprayed with fire retardant. During the wildfires, the "mobile units"--racing around in red firetrucks--even extinguished fires for their clients.

One customer described a scene of modern-day Revelation. "Just picture it. Here you are in that raging wildfire. Smoke everywhere. Flames everywhere. Plumes of smoke coming up over the hills," he told the Los Angeles Times. "Here's a couple guys showing up in what looks like a firetruck who are experts trained in fighting wildfire and they're there specifically to protect your home."

And your home alone. "There were a few instances," one of the private firefighters told Bloomberg News, "where we were spraying and the neighbor's house went up like a candle."

Like so many private disaster companies, Sovereign Deed is selling escape from climate change and the failed state--by touting the security clearance and connections its executives amassed while working for that same state.

So Mills,
( retired Brig. Gen. Richard Mills ) speaking recently in Pellston, explained, "The reality of FEMA is that it has no infrastructure, and a lot of our National Guard is elsewhere." Sovereign Deed, on the other hand, claims to have "direct access and special arrangements with several national and international information centers. These proprietary arrangements allow our Emergency Operations Center to...give our Members that critical head start in times of crisis." In this secular version of the Rapture, God's hand is unnecessary. Not when you have retired ex-CIA agents and ex-Special Forces lifting the chosen to safety--no need to pray, just pay. And who needs a celestial New Jerusalem when you can have Pellston, with its flexible local politicians and its surprisingly modern regional airport?

And according to Naomi Klein, our friends at Blackwater USA are ready to ride to the rescue in an emergency as well -- for the right price, of course.

Sovereign Deed could soon find itself competing with Blackwater USA, whose CEO, Erik Prince, wrote recently of his plans to offer "full spectrum" services, including humanitarian aid in disasters. When fires broke out in San Diego County, near the proposed site of the controversial Blackwater West base, the company immediately seized the opportunity to make its case. Blackwater could have been the "tactical operation center for East County fires," said company vice president Brian Bonfiglio. "Can you imagine how much of a benefit it would be if we were operational now?".

So here you have it, the future of national disaster emergency management. Those who can afford it will buy this "crisis insurance" from a private firm and the poor will wait for an under-funded, under-staffed, dispassionate and disorganized government agency. It's the difference between ending up in a five-star hotel or a toxic trailer.

We now understand the serious flaw in the idea that humanity could survive a full scale nuclear war. Yet that same level of understanding hasn't seem to reach those who believe that they can isolate themselves from the overall community in the event of an environmental or man-made disaster. Therefore, there is no impetus on the part of the corporate elite and their lobbyists to force improvements in government agencies like FEMA.

This is simply evidence of Darwin's theory, isn't it? So there's no sense in reading this and just getting mad about it.

Don't just get mad, get prepared.

Instead of rushing off to Walmart's post Halloween, pre Christmas holiday sale consider tucking that money away for an emergency.

Instead of financing that home theatre system with the wall length HDTV consider how much you might need to have tucked away if you have to evacuate your home and live in a hotel for a few weeks.

And before you purchase your next car, you may want to think about whether you can live in it, if you'll have to pay the equivalent of a monthly mortgage payment.

And finally, if you have a moment consider signing the petition asking Congress to hold FEMA accountable for distributing toxic trailers.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.