Sunday, August 27, 2006

Speaking of Katrina...

If you have a spare hour this weekend -- not likely, but still -- you might want to give a listen to an episode of the public-radio show Speaking of Faith, an episode that I guess first aired a little less than a year ago but is just as relevant now, titled, Seeing Poverty after Katrina. One excerpt:
Host Krista Tippett: And, you know, it's hard even to find people in our public life, politicians who are talking about poverty, justice in the sense that you're talking about justice, structures of poverty, and making that any kind of priority for our public deliberation.

Dr. David Hilfiker: Well, that's certainly true. I mean, we have come a long way. The last 25 years have seen a turn. What we earlier called "greed" or "selfishness" is now called something like "the market," and it's this fascination that we have with the market, that everything has to go through the market.

Ms. Tippett: Do you think that's happened in the last 25 years?

Dr. Hilfiker: Well, sure. I'm just taking back to the '60s, for instance.

Ms. Tippett: Right.

Dr. Hilfiker: You know, Michael Harrington writes a book called The Other America. All of a sudden people discover poverty. You know, 'Oh, dear, we didn't know this, but we've got poverty in our country.' And the general response is, 'Oh. Well, we need to do something about that. And not only that, but we can, and we've got the power to do that.' So out of that comes, you know, President Johnson's Great Society program.

Today, you know, my fear out of Katrina is that we will once again see the poverty, but that will fade into believing that if we just, you know, encourage these folks to make better use of the market that then we'll all be fine. This notion that we are responsible for one another, that we belong in a community together, that we need to create just structures, is a very foreign one now.