I am not a huge fan of Titanic, but I was watching it last night as I fell asleep and I got this weird feeling of deja vu. After thinking about it, I realized that The Titanic disaster is similar in a lot of ways to Katrina and the government response failure of the last 8 days:

  • The folks who ran the Titanic had been warned there were icebergs in the area, but chose to ignore the warnings because getting to New York as fast as possible meant selling more tickets. The Bush Administration had been warned that the levees in New Orleans were going to need repair to withstand a category 3 storm or higher, but chose to ignore the warnings because they and their rich buddies needed a tax break, and Halliburton needed a nice rebuilding contract in Iraq.

  • The Titanic held 3,547 passengers but there were only enough lifeboats on board to hold 1,178 of them, and no lifeboat drill was ever discussed or practiced. When New Orleans residents were told about the mandatory evacuation, the “shelter of last resort”, the Superdome, couldn’t hold all of them, and no evacuation plan beyond “Get out” was discussed or rehearsed.

  • The steerage passengers, those in the lower class, were not told about the crisis until the lifeboats had been almost filled with first and second class passengers, at which point they had to fend for themselves as the ship went down. We know what happened in New Orleans.

Just found this post on Factesque that says it better than I can:

It’s hard to think of the imagery of the past week – the rising flood waters, the drowning victims, the separated families, the evacuees stuffed into and later even locked into domed holding pens and left to fend for themselves in the ensuing chaos – without thinking of the Titanic. (read more)

So even with all of our technology and “progress”, humanity has apparently learned nothing in the past 100 years. We are as focused on class as we ever were, and it continues to be fatal to be poor no matter what century you are living in.