Law-abiding Yankees

As any of my fellow Louisianians can attest, when Katrina and lesser storms tore through our lives and communities, you soon heard plenty of national commentary about how a culture of corruption would lead to widespread abuse of any aid dollars that flowed into the region. You could even argue that there were fewer dollars flowing in precisely because of those preconceived notions about our state.

So when I saw a Facebook friend from out Hurricane Sandy’s way post about a ton of scammers he’d witnessed doing things to abuse emergency relief programs, I found it interesting. After all, I haven’t heard diddly about how a culture of corruption infuses the Northeast. Nor have I heard mention about how Yankees out that way shouldn’t be trusted with relief funds because they’ll just steal everything that isn’t nailed down and lie about what they lost during the storm.

Or are they just a bunch of smug, self-satisfied, deluded a–holes, willing to stereotype every part of this nation because their social enlightenment grants them the ability to judge the rest of us from a lofty height?

Guess that’s because they don’t lie, cheat, or steal out that way. Whereas everyone knows, down here, we just can’t help ourselves. It’s in the blood, see.

Some other part of me could be deeply offended, even insulted. Another part of me might point to fraud out in the Northeast and say that it’s evidence of deeper human truths: that all mankind is afflicted by people willing to cheat and game the system, that there’s always someone who will take whatever isn’t nailed down.

Truth be told, I’d feel a lot more confident leaving my laptop sitting out on my table at a coffee shop in Baton Rouge than I ever would in almost any Northeastern city. Especially any city in that direction with over 100,000 residents.

Wonder what that says about the culture of corruption? Or the endemic sense of entitlement?

Is it just because we have so many very, very poor people down here? Is there some weird inclination on the part of the rest of the nation to view the very poor as being inherently flawed, inherently undeserving of aid, because their abject poverty serves as proof positive in a capitalist system that they simply don’t belong and can’t cut it?

Or are they just a bunch of smug, self-satisfied, deluded a–holes, willing to stereotype every part of this nation because their social enlightenment grants them the ability to judge the rest of us from a lofty height?

I ask these questions as a Yankee, mind you. I was born in New York City. I grew up all over, but primarily in the North.

I don’t cheat on forms, I don’t claim aid I don’t deserve, and I don’t game the system. I’d also never really bought the idea that Louisiana was any more apt to have residents abuse disaster relief than anywhere else.

Nice to be proven right every so often.

About Jared Kendall

Jared Kendall
A freelance data journalist and father of two, Jared Kendall has been using comedy as a coping mechanism his entire life. Born a Yankee, Jared's twenty-year stint in Baton Rouge still leaves him with one question: "Why'd I move here, again?"

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