NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

HOW TO HELP NEW ORLEANS?

November 30, 2005

With New Orleans flat on its back, it is clear that city will not be reborn without massive and sustained federal help. Uncle Sam could find the money to rebuild, but is New Orleans worth rebuilding? Those of us who will be asked to finance the city's recovery are entitled to ask, says the Dallas Morning News.

Consider:

  • Some scientists, including one at the center of a recent 60 Minutes report, say that rising oceans and eroding Louisiana wetlands will cut New Orleans off from the mainland by century's end. How likely is this scenario, which other scientists vigorously dispute? If it's plausible, should the nation build what is, in effect, a multibillion-dollar sandcastle on the shore?
  • Behind the charm of historic districts, pre-Katrina New Orleans was a basket case of urban blight and long in decline due to a corrupt civic culture and a changing economy that eroded the rationale for its existence. Is there any reason to think that a New Orleans that works is ready to emerge?
  • Given that the United States is likely to face more and stronger hurricanes in the years to come, due to natural hurricane cycles and the erosion of wetlands, does it make sense to rebuild a major coastal city virtually from the ground up -- and below sea level?

This is going to be a painful national conversation to have because nobody wants to disrespect the people of New Orleans, who have lost everything. But we had better talk about these questions, and soon, because without a workable plan that marshals the political will of the nation behind it, New Orleans will die of neglect, says the News.

A public debate cannot be put off indefinitely. The 2006 hurricane season begins in seven months, says the News.

Source: Editorial, "How to Help New Orleans: Country must ask hard questions first," Dallas Morning News, November 30, 2005.

 

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