'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What's Going on in New Orleans? 

The current cover story of the Black Commentator answers a lot of questions about what is going on in New Orleans and corroborates Naomi Kleins' reporting from the fall.

The Commentator argues that it is unclear who is in charge of the reconstruction and in the vacuum a group of real estate and corporate developers appointed to the "mayor's commission" are pushing through a redevelopment plan that is good for their bottomline but bad for the tens of thousands of dispossessed -- basically, the commission is trying manipulate the situation such that the low-income neighborhoods never get rebuilt.

The physical devastation of Hurricane Katrina was exacerbated by the fact that it occurred at a time when for ideological reasons the powers that be are uniquely incapable of dealing with the disaster rationally. If ever there was a problem for which the solution was a massive federally funded project complete with WPA-like employment programs and so forth this was it, but instead, in Bush's America, some corporations got some loot and some tax breaks and that's about it. I don't know why people don't understand that corporations are in the business of making money, and their contributions to public projects will be beneficial only to the extent that their ability to profit is aligned with the public good ... Here's the Commentator:

Former New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial, currently president of the National Urban League, called the commission's scheme a "massive red-lining plan wrapped around a giant land grab." With the situation so uncertain, and time so short, homeowners will have difficulty settling with their insurance companies in time. Said Morial:

"It's cruel to bar people from rebuilding. Telling people they can't rebuild for four months is tantamount to saying they can't ever come back. It's telling people who have lost almost everything that we're going to take the last vestige of what they own."
And what about renters, who made up well over half of residents? Such people have no place in George Bush's "ownership society" - especially if they are Black. Bush put his smirking stamp of approval on the corporate plan during an oblivious visit to New Orleans, last week. "It may be hard for you to see, but from when I first came here to today, New Orleans is reminding me of the city I used to visit."

Apparently, the president doesn't read newspapers because he is blind - except to the cravings of his class. Bush's Gulf Opportunity Zone Act provides billions in tax dodges for (big) business, while the threatened permanent depopulation of Black New Orleans would eliminate the possibility of return for the nearly 8,000 (small) Black businesses that served the neighborhoods.

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