Friday, September 02, 2005


I've said and thought a lot of things in the last few days that in retrospect I regret, at least for the tone and timing, if not for the sentiments in and of themselves. Most of this you wouldn't have seen unless you came from the blog comment sections in question, and for this I apologize. I'm a sour-tempered, antisocial person, and I am lacking in regards to tact and respect for the opinions of others. I don't take back a word of it, but I regret that I said a lot of it as early as I did.

Who would have thought that New Orleans was so close to the brink of civilization? I've never been there, so I had no real inkling how bad the back-street neighborhoods were, nor how fast things would disintegrate once the drugs ran out and the armed junkies started prowling. It's going to be a mess once all the refugees are sorted, because it seems as if there's a lot of bad apples in the baskets, and the baskets are going to be scattered all throughout the Deep South. It'll be an interesting experimental test of the theory that concentrations of bad actors results in amplified criminal environments beyond what you'd expect of the relative numbers involved.

I stand by my contention that New Orleans as a major city ought not to be rebuilt. The site is too abhorrent to imagine us re-using it again. The exposure of New Orleans on the hurricane coast will only get worse as long as the Mississippi is constrained in the main channel levee system. You can either cut the levees, and let the Mississippi act the way nature intended, or you can abandon the city of New Orleans. I'd be inclined in a perfect world to do both, but in the world we live in, the main channel carries too much of the nation's commerce, and the port of New Orleans is too important to write off as a relocation expense. The same goes for the petrochemical infrastructure, which has to be a higher priority than the reconstruction of below-river-level housing in and around New Orleans.

To be brutal, the impoverished can be impoverished as well in Bismarck or Fargo or Detroit as they can in the currently-under-water Ninth Ward of New Orleans. The relatively-well-off, who have lost so much more, ought to have both the resources and the basic good sense to find themselves safer accommodations than that which can be re-built in what has proven itself to be an appalling death-trap.

To be brief, I believe that government emergency funds aimed towards residential and non-vital business reconstruction in the New Orleans flood zone ought to be diverted to relocation funds, aimed at buying out the inhabitants of vulnerable areas of New Orleans and the environs. We may be stuck with a major, economically vital port in that area, but there's no reason in the world worth the financing of the return hundreds of thousands of inhabitants back into what's proven itself to be an obscenely dangerous and isolated locale.

I had hoped for the opportunity for us to shut down the city of New Orleans over a gentle decade of discouragement and gradual abandonment. Nature closed that option rather decisively, sad to say. Oh, well.

Here's something I wrote last year about the prospects of the lower Mississippi. For some reason I expected the culprit to be the river, not the lake.

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