Staggering conclusions on transportation

My favorite fabulist, Randal O'Toole, is at it again. This time, with Lack of Automobility Key to New Orleans Tragedy:

hose who fervently wish for car-free cities should take a closer look at New Orleans. The tragedy of New Orleans isn't primarily due to racism or government incompetence, though both played a role. The real cause is automobility -- or more precisely to the lack of it.

"The white people got out," declared the New York Times today. But, as a chart in the Times article makes clear, the people who got out were those with automobiles. Those who stayed, regardless of color, were those who lacked autos.
. . .
"The evacuation plan was really based on people driving out," an LSU professor told the Times. On Saturday and Sunday, August 27 and 28, when it appeared likely that Hurricane Katrina would strike New Orleans, those people who could simply got in their cars and drove away. The people who didn't have cars were left behind.

Critics of autos love the term "auto dependent." But Katrina proved that the automobile is a liberator. It is those who don't own autos who are dependent -- dependent on the competence of government officials, dependent on charity, dependent on complex and sometimes uncaring institutions.
. . .
Numerous commentators have legitimately criticized the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other government agencies for failing to foresee the need for evacuation, failing to secure enough buses or other means of evacuation, and failing to get those buses to people who needed evacuation. But people who owned autos didn't need to rely on the competence of government planners to be safe from Katrina and flooding. They were able to save themselves by driving away. Most apparently found refuge with friends or in hotels many miles from the devastation. Meanwhile, those who didn't have autos were forced into high-density, crime-ridden refugee camps such as the Superdome and New Orleans Convention Center.

The logic is beautiful: "People are starving because they're not eating this here hamburger that I'm eating. Are there other things they could eat? No. They must be eating this particular hamburger in order to acquire the calories they need to survive." It's not "automobility" that people lacked. It was "mobility" period. Or, as my advisor would urge, "access, not mobility" - it wasn't mobility that was the issue, but access to places that were safe from the storm, and mobility isn't necessary for access to safety if the place you are is safe - which is why rebuilding NO the way it was is a bad idea; it should be built safer.