Thursday, August 20, 2015

"In spite of.."

Here's a pretty good Guardian piece on the myths and realities of the New Orleans "recovery."   
But there’s little evidence, yet, that this growth is going to turn New Orleans into an engine of economic growth that will benefit everyone. Indeed, the early evidence suggests that something quite different may be happening.

“We can’t talk about a city that is being entrepreneurial if minimum wage remains at $7.25 an hour,” says Roberta Brandes Gratz, an urbanist who, along with Jane Jacobs, founded The Center for the Living City. “This can never help improve the lives of the majority of the city’s citizens.”

Gratz has divided her time over the last decade between New York and New Orleans, where she has studied the good, the bad and the ugly of the latter’s attempt to move on, economically, from the Hurricane Katrina disaster: the storm itself; the neglect that caused the collapse of the levee system and the floods, and the hopelessly bungled rescue efforts. She published her conclusions in a book, provocatively entitled, We’re Still Here, Ya Bastards, released earlier this summer; its subtitle, How the People of New Orleans Rebuilt Their City, is a pointed nod at the way she views the city as recovering in spite of rather than because of governmental policies and top-down aid policies.

Now, gentrification – which tends to go hand in hand with entrepreneurial ventures – is emerging as one of the problems that is helping turn New Orleans into a city every bit as rigidly divided between the “haves” and “have nots” as it was before the big storm, and perhaps even more so. “It’s a tale of two cities,” says Gratz, grimly. If [New York’s mayor Bill] de Blasio hadn’t used the term, I would apply it to New Orleans.” 
But New Orleans wasn't rebuilt "in spite of" top-down aid policies.  It was rebuilt specifically because of billions of federal dollars those policies dropped on top of us by default.  Everything else Gratz talks about there.  The "tale of two cities," the "entrepreneurial" griftocracy, all of that comes as a result of local "Bastards" being bastards.  We were challenged with rebuilding a city.  Our politicians, our civic leaders chose gentrification. We are the ones who failed to stop it. 

No comments: