Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Behind the Bloomberg curve

With Bloomberg on the way out, Atrios thinks the opinion-makers in New York might not be quite so in thrall to the #AspenIdeas platform as they once were
I don't have a fully fleshed out thesis here, but I do think there's been a big change over the past few years in the tone from the New York chattering classes, as the bright (not so) young writers are beginning to recognize that shit is fucked up and bullshit for them, too, as their dreams of owning a place with a dishwasher in NYC recede and that house in the Hamptons that all of their senior colleagues own is a couple of lines below "unicorn pegasus" on the list of things they're likely to possess one day.
And, you know, maybe.  But I don't trust anyone who reaches adulthood with an inability to see the world for what it is beyond their own petty career interests to ever really come around.  Besides, there's always another crop of young climbers and more places where they can go and live the dream.
Outsiders, not locals, revitalized New Orleans. Rich or poor, long-term residents can’t see the diamonds in the rough. Hurricane Katrina washed out the parochial thinking that was killing Big Easy. Lessons for Detroit:
“After a tragedy is one of the few times you can be trying to reimagine a city rather than just trying to go back to what you were before,” said Scott Cowen, the president of Tulane University, who is writing a book examining the remaking of New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “What you really need is transformational change, not just incremental change to get back to where you were,” he said in an interview. “That’s been very important to resurgence of this city, and Detroit has to do the same thing.”
All of this is, of course, bullshit. What has "revitalized" New Orleans (if we must use that term) has been a massive influx of state and federal investment in rebuilding.
Rigamer said the city could be back to pre-Katrina levels by 2020.

“What’s going on in New Orleans is you started out with decreased base from Katrina and you are also seeing a lot of federal money pumped into the city,” Rigamer said. “There is a lot of recovery spending occurring right now. A lot of FEMA projects under way.”

Allison Plyer, a demographer with the nonprofit Greater New Orleans Community Data Center, said New Orleans continues to grow annually in large part to job opportunities.

“The number one reason people move to areas is because of the jobs. Some might choose to live in the city, others choose the suburbs. I think the amenities of New Orleans can be attractive,” Plyer said.

Plyer said there is no doubt the billions in recovery money being spent in New Orleans are a strong stimulus for the city.

Plyer also said post-Katrina housing in New Orleans, while lower in cost than major cities such as New York City and San Francisco, is more expensive now than in the past.

“It’s no longer inexpensive to live here. Between taxes, insurance and utilities, the cost of living is higher now,” Plyer said.

Now it's fair to say that the recovery stimulus has attracted many new people to the city to chase the opportunities it affords. The challenge for local leadership in such an environment should be ensuring the benefits of the boom accrue equitably so that, at the very least, the actual victims of the disaster participate in the rebirth. 

But that isn't what's happened.  Instead our leaders have preferred the Aspen strategy of fostering "public-private partnerships" and implementing an austere "zero sum" approach to budgeting  that sets the highest priority on "slaying sacred cows" such as pensions for firefighters.

So, for the time being, it's still possible to see New Orleans a success story provided you care only about the lives and lifestyles of the young entrepreneurs and associated hangers-on midway through the adventure of figuring out what's in it for them. Which is why Bloobergism may have run its course in New York City but, in New Orleans, it's really still kicking into gear.


Bradley said...

I think the only place you and I differ is you seem to actually have a little hope that there's something else anyone--from leaders to citizens--are interested in. Which makes me, somehow, more cynical than you, probably.

I think the playing field has been set far above the level of any city. I think any talk of moving away from what this post refers to as "Bloombergism" is about as meaningful as Obama's "tax increases" on the rich--which, of course, rolled back, what, the fifth or sixth cut down the line on high income earners? We didn't exactly go after the Reagan cuts, did we? We stayed firmly in the neoliberal playing field.


Point is I think the globalist/neoliberal system is absolutely entrenched nationwide for the foreseeable future because global policymakers at levels incredibly far beyond the influence level of a Mitch Landrieu have adopted it as a consensus more stable and established than even the New Deal consensus after WW2.

2008 barely slowed 'em down.

Bradley said...

In the comments, someone makes my point way more succinctly:

"Adopting a few benign positions on social issues as cover so you can solidify the plutocratic takeover of the American and global financial systems is not 'liberal'."

That's correct, except it's not just Bloomberg and guys like him. It's the entire American "left." It's what they believe in. It's Clintonism, too. It's what American "liberals" actually are.

jeffrey said...

I'd agree with all of that. But if we aren't able to observe and confront these greater systems as they manifest at the local level, then where will we ever get a handle on them? Maybe nowhere. But that's why I even bother anyway.