“Houston’s real estate and economic development markets, loaded with oil refineries and vast profit schemes, pushed flood control planning down the river
Hurricane Harvey affected 6.8 million Texans, according to big business media. It adversely affected a quarter of the “lone star state’s” populous. The death toll continues to rise.
Black, brown, and white working class urban and rural people bore the brunt of capitalism’s social disaster (events or nonevents that humans trigger) from Hurricane Harvey. It increased already existing disparities and divisions that capitalism births and nurtures. Wealth, income, and racism stand out.
On the flip side of the coin, Forbes Magazine, a ruling class big business tabloid, analyzed Hurricane Harvey’s effects on financial portfolios. The article’s writer, Bob Clarfeld, said that while fluctuations exist, the effects will be short term. He cautioned against “short sighted decisions rooted in angst and fear.”
What about Harvey’s short and long term effects on working class peoples’ lives? What about their angsts and fears?
Take Houston. It was the hardest hit area. Houston is the fourth largest city in the country. Over half its populace is brown and black. White working people make up much of the other half. Around 40 thousand people will make shelters their home for a long time. Displaced people number over 100,000. Over 218,000 people lack power. Officials told over 100,000 people not to use or drink their water. Deaths continue to mount. Houston’s real estate and economic development markets, loaded with oil refineries and vast profit schemes, pushed flood control planning down the river.
“Capitalism is the culprit.”
Many Houston residents could not afford home insurance. Most all of these residents do not have flood insurance. Over 400,000 people applied for FEMA’s meager aide. Paint the picture: no replacement for their homes and belongings.
Big businesses’ foot soldiers, public officials, and politicians at local, state, and federal levels of government collaborated with the rich in many ways. They made lax laws, policies, and regulations -- or no laws at all -- that significantly caused destructive, lethal flooding. At the same time, they minimized regulatory scrutiny regarding refineries, whose products were spewing toxic residue before Harvey. And now these floods spread the poisons across the Houston region.
David Roth of the National Weather Service said that a hurricane hitting Texas should be expected “about every six years.” CNBC the business channel rated Texas number one in business infrastructure appeal, although it cited waterways and transportation as issues that needed lots of improvement. The assessment came before Harvey. Everyone knew what would happen.
Dr. Robert Bullard, a Black environmental justice expert, called it a catastrophe waiting to happen.” He called “unrestrained capitalism” the culprit. Cross out unrestrained.
Not to worry. Your investment portfolio remains safe.
Dr. Morgan is the former head of Urban Studies at Coppin State University and an activist scholar. He can be reached at [email protected].