Neoconservative lobbyist Grover Norquist has declared that he wishes so to diminish government in the U.S. that he can drown it in a bathtub. This paper will address the ways in which Katrina has laid bare how the neoconservative attack on the state since the early 1980s, and especially in the past five years, has (1) targeted for devastation those public agencies supportive of the racially defined poor, thus rendering them far more vulnerable to disasters, both natural and social; and (2) shifted state resources away from poorer, especially African American and Latino, citizens to the interests of wealthier (and overwhelmingly White) Americans, in effect privatizing the definition and implementation of public programs in the name of “charitable contributions”. This trend has also had the effect of shifting racial discriminations from the public to the private realm, thus making racism less visible and more difficult to address, while at the same time easier to deny in practice.
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