Thursday, August 15, 2013

Trickle-down recovery

The long and inevitably sad story of the city's "recovery" ultimately ends up being a restoration of sorts.  What we're looking at now, and what various magazines and boosters celebrate, is really just a return to prominence of the same cabal of hospitality and real estate developers who called the majority of the shots before the storm.

Perhaps you weren't living here then.  In a word, it was bad.  The police were corrupt. The schools were bifurcated into elite private and neglected public systems. The only economic activity to speak of was dominated by low wage, low benefit industries that used the more historic or "culturally significant" aspects of the city as amusements for wealthy vacationers. A state tax credit subsidized  fly-by-night film production.  The mayor was a bald "business-friendly innovator" who espoused a corporate-friendly pro-privatization ideology.  The land was sinking. The coast was eroding.  Nothing was done about it.

Now, things are very much the same. The key differences are slight demographic shifts which afford the elite class tighter grip on the system than they had before.  And so they're building the city they've always wanted; a city for themselves and their clients
Reinventing the Crescent (which enjoyed Nagin’s endorsement) aligns with that approach: taking Community Development Block grants from their intended application in low-income neighborhoods and instead pouring them into what Tulane geographer and author Richard Campanella calls ” ‘the white teapot’ … a relatively wealthy and well-educated majority area” along the river.

Maybe the project should be called Regilding the Teapot?
Direct all the money to the already wealthy and pretend they'll do their best to save the rest of us.  How many times do we have to run through this con before we stop buying into it?

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