Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Just in case you thought this problem was solved

From today's NYTimes editorial:

"We are about to lose New Orleans. Whether it is a conscious plan to let the city rot until no one is willing to move back or honest paralysis over difficult questions, the moment is upon us when a major American city will die, leaving nothing but a few shells for tourists to visit like a museum. ...

The city must rise to the occasion. But it will not have that opportunity without the levees, and only the office of the president is strong enough to goad Congress to take swift action. Only his voice is loud enough to call people home and convince them that commitments will be met.

Maybe America does not want to rebuild New Orleans. Maybe we have decided that the deficits are too large and the money too scarce, and that it is better just to look the other way until the city withers and disappears. If that is truly the case, then it is incumbent on President Bush and Congress to admit it, and organize a real plan to help the dislocated residents resettle into new homes. The communities that opened their hearts to the Katrina refugees need to know that their short-term act of charity has turned into a permanent commitment.

If the rest of the nation has decided it is too expensive to give the people of New Orleans a chance at renewal, we have to tell them so. We must tell them we spent our rainy-day fund on a costly stalemate in Iraq, that we gave it away in tax cuts for wealthy families and shareholders. We must tell them America is too broke and too weak to rebuild one of its great cities.

Our nation would then look like a feeble giant indeed. But whether we admit it or not, this is our choice to make. We decide whether New Orleans lives or dies."

Did anyone actually think that our beloved government would make good on its promise to rebuild New Orleans? If so, there's some lakefront property in Cleveland I'd love to sell you.*

This is, of course, unacceptable. The article mentions that the cost of rebuilding the levees, the most concrete (no pun intended) step to rebuilding the city, would cost our coffers $32 billion. By the way? The House just approved $95 billion in tax cuts (even as they contemplate gutting social programs like Medicaid and Medicare, but that's another story). The feeble refrain warbled out by morons shackled to their corporate donors remains that "tax cuts grow the economy." You know what else would grow the economy? REBUILDING NEW ORLEANS.

I'm about to write my senators and congressperson. I'd like to urge any of you who happen upon this post and happen to live in a red state to do so as well. I say this because I know the response I'll get from Barbara Boxer and Henry Waxman. It'll be something like "I, too, am concerned about the state of New Orleans' recovery. I have been fighting in Congress/the Senate to pass legislation to rebuild the levees. Unfortunately, the Republicans have fought my every effort, and the legislation remains stalled in committee."

If you live in a red state, urge your representatives to recognize that rebuilding New Orleans is not a partisan issue. Help them to understand that short-term catering to their special interests will gain them a lot less street cred (and good karma) come the 2006 elections than participating in a national effort to rebuild the city.

As the NY Times editorial points out, time is short for New Orleans. Let's do what we can to force the hands of those who answer to us.

You can find out who your local Representative is here.

*Cleveland does in fact sit on Lake Erie- but much of the Cleveland lakefront is underdeveloped and dilapidated. For whatever reason, a city with amazing access to a great body of water has done little to develop what you'd think would be its most desirable property. Poor Cleveland. Anyway, I probably should have said "property on Lake Pontchartrain" but I thought that might be too cynical, even for me.


At 12:25 PM, Blogger St. Dickeybird said...

I thought the reason I hadn't read anything about New Orleans was that it was being rebuilt!
But I'm Canadian, and after the last 6 years, we don't read US news as intently...


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