Sunday, September 04, 2005

Fire Figters, Armies, and Downtime

Fire Fighters fight fires, armies fight each other. If we are lucky most of the time they sit on their asses. Well, not really. Firemen need to keep busy. They polish their trucks, walk their dalmatians and do fund raising for the MS Society as well as burn victims. The also do a lot of posing in calendars with their shirts off, if time permits, they practices shooting the water cannon and climbing ladders. The new guys un-roll and roll the hoses.

Armies are a lot like that. We don't really want them doing their thing. Killing gets us down, but we're paying them, they should do something. Aside from killing, soldiers do a lot of training to kill. They scream about doing push ups. They haze the new guys. They do a lot of jogging, and once in a while they are called on to help in the case of emergency. The problem is that in a lot of cases killing people is job one and rescuing people is merely a stop-gap occupation. Right now the American army is in Iraq. There aren't a lot of them at home doing nothing just waiting for an emergency.

Here in Australia the talk is all about the Hurricane. While most people feel sorry for the people of New Orleans, many are using this as a chance to criticize the USA. Comparisons are being made to the 2004 tsunami. Australia pledged USD 819.9 million, including a USD 760.6 million aid package for Indonesia. What a nice thing to do for your next door neighbour. The USA initially pledged USD 350 million, and after the full extent of the damage was known, President Bush asked Congress to increase the U.S. commitment to a total of $950 million. What a nice thing to do for a group of countries on the other side of the world.

The extra $140 million sort of makes the Aussies look a little cheap when you consider that the Tsunami happened to some of their biggest trading partners and friends.

Australians just love openly criticizing President Bush and the USA, but they don't have backbone to actually do anything about it. The French said no to going to Iraq and their soldiers stayed home. They may be cheese eating surrender monkeys, but at least they made a decision for themselves. Not so Australia, at least part of their army is off fighting in Iraq.

Aussies seem to loving criticizing President Bush for taking too long to respond. What they seem to forget is that a hurricane isn't a one day event. It unfolds over several days, It destroys the city, It sinks or destroys boats in the local area, It knocks down buildings that house helicopters in the area, It over turns buses in the area. In short it ruins the materials needed to perform any sort of rescue in the local area. By the time, the hurricane ends people have already been stranded for a while. Time passes while the extent of the damage is being determined. It would be very easy and somewhat probable for people to be stranded for two or more days before it is known that they even need help.

Aussies seem to love criticizing the American Government for being racist, that maybe help would have come a little sooner if most of the stranded people hadn't been black and it seems as if the Aussies have forgotten that the Australian Constitution originally did not permit indigenous people to be counted in the census (except under the category, 'Flora and Fauna'), thereby effectively denying their right to vote until 1967. In case you don't know flora and fauna are PLANTS and ANIMALS!

To illustrate the time it takes to evacuate people stranded on rooftops here is a series of word problems from a sixth grade book:

Q. If a helicopter can hold five passengers and there are 500,000 people stuck on their rooftops how many return flights does a helicopter have to make to rescue all the people?

A. 100,000 return flights.

Q. If there are 10 helicopters in the area, how many flights does each helicopter have to make to rescue all the people?

A. 10,000 flights each.

Q. If it takes one hour to pull five people to safety and fly them to higher ground, how long will each helicopter take to complete 10,000 flights?

A. 10,000 hours.

Q. If there are 20 pilots and each pilot is allowed to fly 8 hours per day, how many days will it take to complete 10,000 flights?

A. 62.5 days.

As a Canadian, I consider the Americans to be our friends. I might not want my country to get into every one of their fights, especially if we don't think they are warranted, but I take offense at them being kicked while they are down. It's fine to smile when their basketball team gets beaten, but to feel superior because it appears that they are having trouble reacting to a natural disaster where most likely thousands of people have died is wrong.

It seems likely that Australia will not be sending much aid to help the people in New Orleans, but The oil-rich Persian Gulf state of Kuwait said Sunday it will donate $500 million in aid to U.S. relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina.

"It's our duty as Kuwaitis to stand by our friends to lighten the humanitarian misery and as a payback for the many situations during which Washington helped us through the significant relations between the two friendly countries," Sheik Ahmed Fahd Al Ahmed Al Sabah said in a statement carried by Kuwait's official news agency, KUNA.

Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.

-Gary Milner

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