Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In other news

Galveston is having a hard time. We heard a lot about Katrina and New Orleans -- not so much about Ike and Galveston. We have family in that area; between the hurricane and the economic tsunami, Galveston is being hit hard.

The latest news confirms that between 2800 and 3800 people are going to be laid off from the University of Texas Medical Branch. That is going to be 3800 families who will not have a good Christmas this year -- 3800 people going onto unemployment, perhaps forcing them to move, as Galveston is not rebuilding very rapidly (if at all).

But additionally, this is bad news for the thousands and thousands of indigent people who depend on UTMB for medical care. UTMB lost $710 million from treating people after Ike and additionaly did not have sufficient flood insurance to cover the damage from the hurricane. UTMB is the largest employer on the island. This will mean tremendous loss of revenue for Galveston with the result that they may never recover fully from Ike.

There is a part of me that feels that this is a message to us to not build so close to the coast. What hubris that is! There is a part of me that believes that yes, they need to cut their losses and move inland.

But I get lost into the individual stories -- the indigent person who will not have care; the family of that nurse that will be laid off. How do we balance what we know is making the "best" of a bad situation and these individual stories?

I wonder if part of separating the sheep from the goats happens within our own selves as we try to discern the best thing to do.

I can hear it now -- "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?" Then he will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you took away the employment to one of the least of these, just as you denied decent healthcare to one of the least of these, just as you shutdown 350 hospital beds to one of the least of these, you did do it to me."

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