Prison Pete

Sunday, September 18, 2005
  Yes, I Know I Have It Better Than Some.
It is Monday, Labor Day here in my Gated Community and I have to acknowledge that right now I am living more comfortably the thousands of people displaced from their homes down south.

I am still having trouble picturing the amount of people that have been left homeless from the hurricane and flooding. I have seen the pictures of New Orleans and know that it will take a long time to even begin to see what is salvageable. I have heard some of the commentaries about those that were unable to leave before the storm hit. One radio talk show person went as far to say that if those poor people had stayed in school, had jobs, and were responsible as far as the number of children they had, they would not be in such dire circumstances now.

While discussing the storm, some of us were mentioning how one of the things that is a strictly controlled item in prisons is toilet paper. At my current location we are able to get one new roll of toilet paper each Wednesday. In Club Fed, we usually were given two rolls per person per week.

As I was discussing this allocation of resources with a neighbor, he said that he only needed one roll every two to three weeks. I mentioned that I usually need one roll per week. He started to explain how he was raised to conserve resources and then went on to explain exactly how he was able to use so little toilet paper. I cut him off saying he was attempting to give me way too much information.

The question that this discussion raises is how does one decide what is enough of basic resources for an individual and who is responsible to make up for shortages of those resources? When a disaster strikes it becomes even more difficult to decide who needs what.

Some people may have paid for insurance to protect their assets. Do you punish those people that did not plan properly and pay premiums all those years? The magnitude of disaster, is that a factor? If your house, all your possessions and your job all are destroyed, does it matter if you are one of a few hundred or one of tens of thousands?

I wonder how the victims of this disaster feel about the compensation system that was set up for the families of September 11 attack. It is obvious that thousands of families will not only have lost their homes, but many have also lost their jobs as many businesses were devastated and may never recover.

I know there are no easy answers and I mention this only to ask if others are willing to admit that there is no one answer. It does come down to finding and allowing the human spirit to guide our actions.

It is certainly clear that while there is lots of blame flying around there are amazing stories of what individuals have accomplished in the face of all this devastation. Once you try to plug cold, hard numbers into a computer and divide up the pie, no one is going to be happy.
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