Monday, December 12, 2005

New Orleans being left to sink into the mud?

A grim editorial in yesterday's New York Times decries the "death of an American city" as the Bush administration sends a mere pittance to salvage New Orleans while spending unimaginable amounts in Iraq.
Total allocations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the war on terror have topped $300 billion. All that money has been appropriated as the cost of protecting the nation from terrorist attacks. But what was the worst possible case we fought to prevent?

Losing a major American city.
Their point is that a slow response, in itself, dooms the city, as displaced residents make new lives elsewhere and the infrastructure decays to unsalvagable. To really hurricane-proof the place would cost some billions (but a fraction of the number noted above) and require that local officials really prepare to re-plan their city from scratch. But not doing those things means accepting the erasure of both a city and a unique culture (or, just as bad, reducing both to Disney-esque tourist versions of their former selves)...
If the rest of the nation has decided it is too expensive to give the people of New Orleans a chance at renewal, we have to tell them so. We must tell them we spent our rainy-day fund on a costly stalemate in Iraq, that we gave it away in tax cuts for wealthy families and shareholders. We must tell them America is too broke and too weak to rebuild one of its great cities.
Not a pretty option, but we can't pretend that both action and inaction aren't choices . . .

(via This Modern World)

Update: in related musings, see this new term/concept.

Update 2:
jeez! a Bush advisor says that "Katrina has fallen so far off the radar screen that you can't find it." I'm sure that the nation finds that very reassuring.
(via Body & Soul)

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