Sunday, September 04, 2005

Low Trust Islands in High Trust Societies

Why did civil order break down in New Orleans, but not in harder-hit Mississippi? It seems that the poor people of New Orleans have a Low Trust society, existing as a bubble in the High Trust US. They should rebuild their lives and learn High Trust behavior where they find refuge, and before returning to New Orleans.

Mississippi was hid hardest:

...vast stretches of Mississippi have been devastated by Katrina, with towns like Biloxi and Gulfport almost completely destroyed. The area of destruction requiring attention comprises the same square mileage as England. Getting resources to all affected points within that zone simultaneously would take an unprecedented, Herculean effort that no one could have anticipated prior to landfall on Monday morning.

This vast area has received less help than New Orleans:

The federal government has sent 7,000 troops to get assistance to the entire region, and the states have activated 40,000 National Guard troops to deploy there as well. They will need to build temporary bridges and roads to get airfields in order. The airfields will receive the supplies that require still more clear roads for delivery to the stricken areas and people. It's not impossible, but it clearly requires tight logistical planning and execution and full attention to the problem.

So poor people have banded together to get by:

In poverty-stricken north Gulfport, Grover Chapman was angry at the lack of aid.
"Something should've been on this corner three days ago," Chapman, 60, said Saturday as he whipped up dinner for his neighbors.


He used wood from his demolished produce stand to cook fish, rabbit, okra and butter beans he'd been keeping in his freezer. Although many houses here, about five miles inland, are still standing, they are severely damaged. Corrugated tin roofs lie scattered on the ground.
"I'm just doing what I can do," Chapman said. "These people support me with my produce stand every day. Now it's time to pay them back."


Whereas anarchy mostly prevailed in the New Orleans Superdome (my emphasis):

The arena's second-story concourse looked like a dump, with more than a foot of trash except in the occasional area where people were working to keep things as tidy as possible.

Bathrooms had no lights, making people afraid to enter, and the stench from backed-up toilets inside killed any inclination toward bravery.

Janice Singleton, a worker at the Superdome, said she got stuck in the stadium when the storm hit. She said she was robbed of everything she had with her, including her shoes.

"They tore that dome apart," she said sadly. "They tore it down. They taking everything out of there they can take."

The City and State were clearly incompetent, but in that situation, people from High Trust societies self-organize. They do the things kids learn in the Boy Scouts - organize groups, dig latrines, collect the trash, arrange for orderly sharing of limited supplies and keep order.

A few did, see above, plus these idiotic Brit kids who'd ignored the evacuation order:

Backpackers who sheltered in the New Orleans Superdome told how they banded together to protect themselves as crime and squalor took over the makeshift accommodation.

These Brit kids, some folks in the Superdome and and the people Mississippi are showing High Trust behaviors - band together outside of your family unit, organize, help each other.

The others are showing Low Trust - don't trust or help anybody outside your family unit, steal from other families, expect central authority to fix all the problems. That's the behavior that caused the mass deaths of old people in heat waves in Low Trust France.

Low Trust societies are very hard to convert as a group - individuals who convert to High Trust become prey to those that don't. But small groups from Low Trust societies quickly assimilate into High Trust societies, for example when they emigrate to the US.

The refugees need to build High Trust lives for themselves elsewhere, before returning to New Orleans.