Saturday, January 25, 2014

Richer city

James Reiss 2005:
He says he has been in contact with about 40 other New Orleans business leaders since the storm. Tomorrow, he says, he and some of those leaders plan to be in Dallas, meeting with Mr. Nagin to begin mapping out a future for the city.

The power elite of New Orleans -- whether they are still in the city or have moved temporarily to enclaves such as Destin, Fla., and Vail, Colo. -- insist the remade city won't simply restore the old order. New Orleans before the flood was burdened by a teeming underclass, substandard schools and a high crime rate. The city has few corporate headquarters.

The new city must be something very different, Mr. Reiss says, with better services and fewer poor people. "Those who want to see this city rebuilt want to see it done in a completely different way: demographically, geographically and politically," he says. "I'm not just speaking for myself here. The way we've been living is not going to happen again, or we're out."

Mitch Landrieu 2014:
Landrieu argues that if the federal government and the state keep cutting back, New Orleans could be in trouble. Cities that have already modernized and attracted economic development, he argues, will pull away from those that haven’t.

Hence the mayor’s new focus on 2018, when the city will celebrate its tricentennial. Hence the campaign to bring the Super Bowl back that year, another chance to showcase the city. Hence the plans for a bigger airport, one that can operate more cheaply, reduce costs for airlines and — the mayor hopes — attract more flights. Hence the new rules governing the city’s cabs, which now have to have credit card machines and other amenities.

“You can see this as far away as Mars,” Landrieu said. “Poorer cities are going to have less; richer cities are going to have more. You’ve got to find a way to get past that, and I’m not particularly sure of what the answer is, except that you have to get honest, you have to get clean and you have to get smart, and you have to have a place where people want to come.

If you presume to participate in government and politics during the New Gilded Age, you  have two choices. You can either focus your efforts on standing against the crushing wave of injustice visited upon our civic life by the wealthy and powerful or you can focus on a "data-driven, objective" approach to catering to the desires of the wealthy and powerful since the objective data indicates that they're pretty much winning anyway.  

Mitch has chosen the latter path for New Orleans. Maybe he's right. Democracy doesn't work anymore. Better to just hand everything over to the baronage. Sucks for you if you're not among the winners there.  But you'd better not talk back or do any "rabble rousing" otherwise someone will think you are a Nazi or something.

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