Sunday, September 25, 2005

Clusters in a culture of poverty

I was struck this morning by an AP story, Rita’s victims differ from Katrina’s.

I remember scenes of people in New Orleans after the hurricane wagging their finger into the camera and saying, "Where are you? You have got to come get us."

Which was true, but it begged the question why there were so many people in need of being gotten in the first place. Bottom line is that there was a culture of poverty in New Orleans so insidious that large numbers of people there either could not or would not get out of the way of a hurricane.

As if this needed to be highlighted, television news reports showed very few victims of Rita in need of immediate rescue. Surely some of this was because "a new sense of urgency following Katrina led to a more thorough evacuation." But probably a much larger impact was because, "most of Rita's victims ... are less likely to live in poverty, more likely to own a car, and less likely to be a member of a minority."

At home, we feel a sense of urgency to increase our knowledge base in order to create a more innovative and productive economy. We have our own challenges here with people that live in a culture of poverty.

How do we increase the knowledge base of a community of people that will not or can not get out of the way of a hurricane? That challenge seems as overwhelming as a hurricane itself.

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