Reporting on a ravaged Mississippi town on the Gulf coast, the Associated Press said that “Katrina clobbered the rich and poor alike.” A cliché repeated often enough slips past the brain into the heart. We like the idea that in times of disaster all stand equally in awe before the powers that beset us. The proud are leveled, and the humble are (at least relatively) raised up.
In truth, though, precious little affects rich and poor alike. Wealth confers huge advantages, including the ability to drive away ahead of hurricanes, insure vulnerable property, and find comfortable shelter. Poverty wears people down even in fair weather; when the storm comes it kills a lot more of the poor. The rich have more to lose, and may feel more surprise, but the worst actual damage falls to the poorest.
Read more about “Pretending to be Equal” on the Alban Institute website.