Thursday, February 18, 2010


My buddy Adam comments on
Tuesday's post about the fictional "crime wave" assumed to be brought to Houston by New Orleans evacuees:

Just like all the black folks steeling plasma screen TVs in New Orleans and evacuees in the Astrodome being rude and unappreciative of people serving food. A few black people in horrible situations get caught being human and without hesitation they're all guilty and it's all their fault and they shouldn't have lived there in the first place.

fucking shame.

And I've been thinking about this notion lately. Specifically the "shouldn't have lived there in the first place" part, the whole concept that New Orleans shouldn't exist because it's too vulnerable to hurricanes. Almost always, it's a conservative asshole who asserts this bullshit, but nobody ever seems to take this line of thinking to its logical conclusion.

Put aside, for the moment, the torturous ethical and moral considerations deeply embedded in the idea of a nation abandoning one of its great cities, and suppose that NOLA actually decided to give up, to disband the city and move elsewhere, or just tried to have the population absorbed by other cities. How, exactly, do we go about doing this? And, more importantly, who's going to pay for it? This would be a monumental undertaking, dissolving a city, and, never mind the psychological and emotional toll it would have, I can't even begin to imagine the economic ramifications. You've got to find homes for millions of people--I say "millions" because if NOLA goes, so do Metairie, Jefferson, Gretna, and on and on; New Orleans is the economic machine that drives the entire region. You've got to find new jobs for millions of people. You've got to do it in a way that doesn't unduly burden wherever former New Orleanians end up.

Without billions of dollars in federal aid, we're essentially talking about creating a permanent class of poverty stricken refugees, and this time, a large percentage of them would be white. Even with federal tax dollars for such a venture, we're still talking about a new wretched underclass, most likely reviled as gypsy-trash wherever they end up. In the end, conservative assholes, who demanded the city's dissolution in the first place, would be the most vocal denouncers of the new vagabonds of America, or would loudly decry all the tax money needed to resettle them. Probably both. Either way, the right wing would hate what they had previously demanded.

The reality is that cities usually come into being for very good reasons. In the case of NOLA, the crescent of land between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, originally the highest ground in the area, was an ideal center for trade. It wasn't until the twentieth century that oil exploration and short-sighted environmental engineering caused the land to sink below sea level. But the city had already been thriving there for over 150 years. So that's that. The best you can do is just sort of muddle on however you can.

In short, we simply have no way of doing what these conservative assholes say we should, even if we were inclined to do so. Bunch of stupid sick fuckers.