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No Heat, No Electricity -- Desperate New Yorkers Beg for Help Post Sandy

While victims and volunteers look to government, Madonna moons fans to get them to donate.

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It becomes apparent just how easily the needs - and presence - of those constricted by old age and disability can be rendered completely invisible.

Bloomberg's Image Problem

These are ugly scenes, and because of them Mayor Bloomberg could be facing an image problem, as  the New York Times's Mike Grynbaum and David Chen noted this morning. This is due to his brusque mannerisms and prioritizing a focus on "technocratic" problem-solving over the emotional gauntlet of actual encounters with power-starved, or just plain starving, residents. 


So the question remains, is Mayor 1%'s "problem-solving" approach actually solving people's problems, particularly those outside of Manhattan? Some residents say no:

...Tahirah Ingram obtained rumpled jackets for her three children after a 90-minute wait in the rain; their powerless apartment has been increasingly cold at night.“I would have expected him to come out,” she said of Mr. Bloomberg. “Out here, we were forgotten. We’re not part of New York City, too?”

Celebs Step Up

Celebrities, like volunteers, are doing their best to step up to fill the void, with some like Madonna and Justin Timberlake even quietly serving residents in the Rockaways.

Madonna also  traded on her, umm,  assets for donations:

On Monday night at her MDNA concert in New York City, the Material Girl announced that she is "showing [my] naked ass for Hurricane Sandy victims," encouraging her audience to throw money at the stage as part of her fundraising efforts.

"If you are going to look at the crack of my ass, you better raise some cash," she told her adoring crowd. 

Meanwhile, megastars including Kanye West, Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney  are planning a huge benefit at Madison Square Garden.

But the overarching question raised by all this week's news--out of touch politicians, massive volunteer efforts, and celebrity fundraisers--is why should we be forced to mobilize for our neighbors the same ways we mobilize for a crisis in a far-off country? Shouldn't we have a strong government infrastructure that can effectively minister to its citizens' most basic needs? Isn't that the essence of the  safety net for which we progressives fight?  As a volunteer named Eric Moed told reporter Neil deMause, " "We would love if [government agencies] could take over for us, because I need to get on with my life, and that's their job," says Moed. "The Staten Island borough president said something after the storm that has resonated with me greatly, which is that government is here to do for people what they can't do for themselves. But it hasn't been here."






Sarah Seltzer is a freelance writer based in New York City. Her work has been published at the Nation, the Christian Science Monitor, Jezebel and the Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahmseltzer and find her work at

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