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"Ideological Hurricane"

Joel Kotkin has a long piece on New Orleans, the welfare state, and related topics here. Snippet:

Social workers like New Orleanian Sonya Heisser point out that even the poorest individuals still have control of their own lives. She tells her clients, "I don't have to go the fast way. I don't have to sell drugs. I make my own changes. Most of this is about choices-we all make choices."
But while underclass behaviors eventually boil down to personal decisions, society and government set the table with the ground rules they establish in cities. Today, most central cities feature horrific educational deficiences, crumbling infrastructure, and stultifying regulations that drive commerce ever more into the suburban periphery. Yet most city leaders-not to mention productive citizens in the rest of the nation-avert their eyes from these problems until a trauma like Katrina forces the products of our urban maladministration into view. Rather than re-examine their bankrupt social and economic premises, urban elites prefer to channel money into sports stadia and convention centers, hip lofts and restaurants, hoping somehow this will suck talent and wealth into their cities. As if today's urban underclass will just fade away, and leave the cool hipsters unbothered to enjoy their entertainment districts.
This collapse of responsibility and discipline goes against the entire grain of urban history. From republican Rome to the golden ages of Venice, Amsterdam, London, and New York, cities have flourished most when they have served as places of aspiration and upward mobility, of hard work and individual accountability. By becoming mass dispensers of welfare for the unskilled, playpens for the well-heeled and fashionable, easy marks for special interests, and bunglers at maintaining public safety and dispensing efficient services to residents and businesses, many cities have become useless to the middle class, and toxic for the disorganized poor. Today's liberal urban leadership across America needs to see the New Orleans storm not as just a tragedy, but also as a dispeller of illusions, a revealer of awful truths, and a potential harbinger of things to come in their own backyards.
Look beyond the tourist districts. Few contemporary cities are actually healthy in terms of job growth or middle-class amenities. Most are in the grips of moral and economic crisis.

"Paddling One's Own Canoe"

"New Orleans evictions skyrocketing"

From the NYT:

All over New Orleans, from brick apartment complexes in the east to crumbling stucco low-rises in the center, constables have been busy tacking eviction notices to often-empty apartments.
Landlords, many of them starved for rent and fearing foreclosure, have been trying to evict tenants who escaped New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. And that has pitted them against jobless and cash-poor tenants in a fierce race for survival that began playing out Thursday in the city's only functional civil courthouse.
Many tenants cannot pay rent or cannot get home - no small matter in a city where low-income renters are in the majority. And with as much as a fifth of the rental stock destroyed, demand is high and surviving apartment complexes have waiting lists. That creates a dangling temptation for landlords who think they might make more money.
After a moratorium on evictions imposed by Gov. Kathleen Blanco expired 10 days ago, the landlords in the city filed nearly 700 post-Katrina eviction notices. In some cases, they logged as many notices in a single day as court clerks usually see in a whole month.
...The laggard mail and New Orleans' chronically dysfunctional public housing authority - a big source of rent for private landlords here through subsidized Section 8 vouchers - were oft-cited culprits on Thursday, but that was of little help to tenants.

"Who's Killing New Orleans?"

Eased out of the Big Easy

From 10/4's Eased out of the Big Easy from Jesse Jackson:

After his administration's incompetence and indifference had lethal consequences in Katrina's wake, President Bush has been scrambling to regain his footing. He's called for an "unprecedented response to an unprecedented crisis." In religious services at the National Cathedral, he called on America to "erase this legacy of racism" exposed by those abandoned in Katrina's wake. He's called on Congress to appropriate more than $60 billion in emergency relief and outlined a recovery program likely to cost up to $200 billion, or nearly as much as the Iraq War.
All this has led the press to compare his plans to Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal or Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. Don't fall for it. A close look at the Bush plan reveals that this is a bad deal from a deck stacked against the poor who suffered the most in Katrina's wake.
[Davis-Bacon suspension, Alphonso Jackson of HUD's remarks,]
...The people of the 9th Ward are the maids and waiters who serve New Orleans tourists. They are the musicians who give the city its blues. They are the cops and government clerks who are struggling to bring the city back. Half of the houses there are owned, not rentals. Many of these workers are dispersed -- dispatched to over 40 states. Many still are in shelters.
No one could figure out why the Bush administration wouldn't give the evacuees housing vouchers to rent housing in and around New Orleans. Instead, FEMA has ordered tens of thousands of trailers and is struggling to build trailer parks -- Bushvilles -- to shelve Katrina's victims...

They are distributing vouchers; please enter facts and figures on that in the comments.

Now we know. Bush's isn't planning urban renewal, he's planning urban removal. The administration has given the victims of Katrina a one-way ticket out with no plan for their return. Instead, the planners will turn New Orleans into a gentrified theme park. They'll rebuild the white communities -- even those like middle-class Gentilly and wealthy Lakeview that are as prone to severe flooding as the 9th Ward.
Congress should insist that Katrina's victims have a right to return -- and FEMA should develop a plan to make their return possible. They should have preference for the jobs that will be created in rebuilding the city. They should be provided vouchers to use for nearby housing. If necessary, local military bases should be opened, with public transportation to get them to and from work. They should be paid the prevailing wage, with decent health-care benefits. The people of the 9th Ward should decide the fate of their homes, not urban planners intent on building a New Orleans without its black people. If their neighborhoods are not rebuilt, then affordable and public housing should be built in other parts of New Orleans...

Public housing? This would be a wonderful opportunity for an American president to try to lift NO's poor out of their previous poverty cycle, while at the same time allowing them to return to their city. That's going to require money, intelligent thinking, and a pro-American president. The first we have, but the last two are lacking.

Teddy Kennedy introduces "Rebuild with Respect Act"

Senator Teddy Kennedy offers the following statement while introducing the "Rebuild with Respect Act":

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita exposed the silent slavery of poverty for all of America to see. There's no excuse for ignoring what so obviously needs to be done to achieve genuine equality and basic fairness in this country. We know we're a stronger country when we're a fairer country and the crisis on the Gulf Coast has given us a chance to move closer to that goal.
Yet, the Bush Administration's response to the crisis has been fundamentally unfair. They have awarded billions of dollars in contracts to many of their corporate friends. Yet they also took the harsh step denying fair wages to workers implementing the contracts. They have allowed their no-bid contractors to ignore safety protections and exploit undocumented workers. They have cut off emergency aid, at a time when many are still struggling to survive. These responses reflect the misguided priorities that have become the indelible hallmark of this Administration.
Sadly, our Republican colleagues in Congress share the Administration's misguided priorities. Instead of finding ways to meet the needs of the hardworking Americans affected by Katrina and Rita, they are focusing on their proposal to grant over $70 billion in new tax cuts for millionaires...

This Act would:

# Allow Gulf Coast families to rebuild their own communities by requiring all recipients of federal disaster relief funds to employ individuals displaced from jobs or residences by Katrina and Rita and ensuring that federal contracts go to local businesses in the Gulf Coast region.
# Ensure that workers who have lost everything do not lose fair wages, too, by reinstating the protections of the Davis-Bacon Act for workers in the construction industry.
# Recognize and address the racial inequalities that have sparked national outcry by requiring contractors receiving federal disaster relief funds to fully comply with all affirmative action requirements applicable under law.
# Ensure that the federal contracting process is fair to small and disadvantaged businesses.
# Protect the health and safety of recovery and reconstruction workers and volunteers in the Gulf Coast region by requiring federal agencies to develop a coordinated health and safety plan that includes safety training, needed equipment, and monitoring of safety conditions.
# Provide economic security for those who have difficulty finding jobs by providing an emergency extension of unemployment insurance benefits and expanding eligibility for the Disaster Unemployment Assistance program.

Despite the bold move of mentioning "undocumented workers" (in reality they're called "illegal aliens"), there's nothing in there about enforcing the immigration laws against those who employ said workers.

"Liberalism" comes to Cape Cod

From New Hampshire's Union Leader comes Bringing Bourbon Street to Cape Cod, which discusses the Cape Cod incidents.

...First, people were shocked to discover that huge sections of New Orleans were deeply poor. Now people are shocked to find that some of those same poor people are wasting their government aid. How do they think these people became poor in the first place?

"Will New Orleans abandon its poor?"

What an unfortunate title and article; perhaps "Will New Orleans abandon those who were poor but who might not be poor or that poor with the Democratic machine replaced with a commonsense Republican movement?" should have been considered:

They worry that many poor, black residents of this hurricane-ravaged city simply cannot afford to come back. They worry, too, that the politicians, urban planners and developers responsible for the rebuilding of New Orleans will neglect to leave room for the poor in their master plan.
Worse, they fear that civic leaders will see the disaster as a glorious opportunity to try to engineer poverty out of the city altogether.
In short, they worry that Hurricane Katrina will prove to be the biggest, most brutal urban-renewal project black America has ever seen...

"Liberal" hopes to extend welfare state dashed

From the NYT's "Liberal Hopes Ebb in Post-Storm Poverty Debate":

As Hurricane Katrina put the issue of poverty onto the national agenda, many liberal advocates wondered whether the floods offered a glimmer of opportunity. The issues they most cared about - health care, housing, jobs, race - were suddenly staples of the news, with President Bush pledged to "bold action."
But what looked like a chance to talk up new programs is fast becoming a scramble to save the old ones...
"We've had a stunning reversal in just a few weeks," said Robert Greenstein, director of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal advocacy group in Washington. "We've gone from a situation in which we might have a long-overdue debate on deep poverty to the possibility, perhaps even the likelihood, that low-income people will be asked to bear the costs. I would find it unimaginable if it wasn't actually happening."

Dear liberals: I'm sorry your attempts to either pay people to vote for you or to just be ineffective bleeding hearts have been dashed. Here, have a shot of self-reliance and responsibility. C'mon, it'll do you some good.

"This is not the time to expand the programs that were failing anyway," said Stuart M. Butler, a vice president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative research and advocacy group influential on Capitol Hill.
While the right has proposed alternatives including tax-free zones for businesses and school vouchers for students, Mr. Butler said, "the left has just talked up the old paradigm: 'let's expand what's failed before.' "

Thrice victimized

Back on 9/3, the Boston Globe offered "Twice victimized":

...In December, the governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, convened a poverty summit... One-third of the jobs in Louisiana pay below-poverty wages... Although the country never decisively won President Johnson's war on poverty, it's time to renew the battle... Katrina has been devastating. But the storm's legacy could be one of mighty resurgence: a country that emerges from the floods with less poverty, a country that is better and stronger than it ever was.

What wonderful ideas. However, sixty years of experience show that the welfare state and the "liberals" that push it do more harm than good.
And, the Boston Globe is a tireless advocate for illegal aliens. I don't know whether they've weighed in on those illegals who are taking rebuilding jobs, but if they did I'm sure they'd be quite supportive of them. Needless to say, competition from cheap foreign labor is the last thing those in New Orleans need.
Perhaps those in New Orleans will one day realize who's to blame for many of their problems.


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