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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Will New Orleans Recover?

Weak and struggling before Katrina, the good-time city now teeters on the brink.
By Nicole Gelinas, City Journal

It would be uplifting to write today of how the brave people of New Orleans will come together and help each other after Hurricane Katrina—and of course many aredoing just that. Volunteers are navigating their boats around downed power linesand burbling gas mains to rescue fellow citizens still hanging onto rooftops in
the water. Even as floodwaters still engulf the city, evacuees eagerly seek to
return and rebuild their storied city—though they may not be able to do so for

But to anticipate what the city must go through now, after damming up its broken levees and pumping the floodwaters back into LakePontchartrain, is heartbreaking. No American city has ever gone through what New Orleans must go through: the complete (if temporary) flight of its most affluent and capable citizens, followed by social breakdown among those left behind, after which must come the total reconstruction of economic and physical infrastructure by a devastated populace.

And the locals and outsiders who try to help New Orleans in the weeks and months to come will do so with no local institutional infrastructure to back them up. New Orleans has no real competent government or civil infrastructure—and no aggressive media or organized citizens’ groups to prod public officials in the right direction
during what will be, in the best-case scenario, a painstaking path to normalcy."

The New Orleans crime rate during normal times is 10 times the national average, Gelinas writes, and "the city's economy is utterly dependent on tourism. . . . New Orleans has experienced a steady brain drain and fiscal drain for decades, as affluent corporations and individuals have fled, leaving behind a large population of people dependent on the government. Socially, New Orleans is one of America's last helpless cities--just at the moment when it must do all it can to help itself survive."


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