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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Some thoughts on the “debit cards”

Among the government and private assistance (finally) being offered to victims of Hurricane Katrina is a $2000 debit card being offered to various households. Experience with The Boy's girlfriend1 suggests that $2000 is, at best, barely adequate to establish a single person who has nothing. I seriously doubt it would be enough to get a family of even three set up, even with all the other help they might be getting.

The girlfriend, I figure, might be able to get established in her own place with $2000. She would need: deposit on an apartment plus a month's rent, a car (no public transport out here!), insurance & fuel for the car, deposits and payments for turning on lights, gas, and phone, maybe some furniture (like, you know, a bed & a dining room table for starters) if the apartment doesn't have any, and enough food to tide her over to her next paycheck. Oh, and there's cigarettes, but don't get me started on that. Evacuees need all that to get back on their feet, plus a job or two (the girlfriend has a job at least). It might take $2000 or more just to live on until they find work.

It's difficult to be independent when you're starting — or starting over — from scratch. Some will go back to rebuild their city... and I wonder if some of the refuseniks stayed because they hoped to be first in line getting cleanup and repair work. Others will be glad to relocate, especially with people wanting to help them get started. For all the noise we make about New Orleans “charm” and so forth, living poor would certainly obscure the charm. I suppose it would be like that for me if I moved to the beach: it's a nice place to visit, but if I lived there I'd have to fight traffic every morning, and I'm not used to living cheek-by-jowl with hundreds of people; beach communities don't seem to have a problem cramming a thousand people into the same amount of land as FAR Manor's acreage, where it's just the six of us (including Lobster and girlfriend).

Maybe that's why hurricanes do so much damage these days.

1I really need to come up with a nickname for her....

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