To Rebuild or not to Rebuild.

Monday, September 26, 2005
There is much discussion on the internet and elsewhere concerning the wisdom of rebuilding New Orleans.

Instapundit thinks it is a bad idea.

I am not so sure.

Galveston rebuilt, as did San Francisco and Chicago and Oklahoma City and Grand Forks, ND.

But the real argument here is the role of the federal government and the responsibility we as tax payers have to one another.

The federal government is required to pay for 3/4 of the cost of rebuilding or repairing the infrastructure of the disaster area.

But what about the people, especially the poor who will not have the funds to rebuild?

If I were a libertarian I would say that was not my job.

But then again I live in rural America and I pay to help Los Angeles have new highway whether I like it or not.

I pay to send other's people children to school.

I pay to provide health care and social security benefits to people I don't know and have no relation to at all.

I do it for the common good, as do we all.

So is it in the interest of the common good to rebuild New Orleans?

Thomas Jefferson told the French that whomever controlled New Orleans was our natural enemy, so vital was the mouth of the mighty Mississipi. So the French sold it to the United States.

I say rebuild it, but require transparency and set limits.

Put someone like Giuliani in control of the money and keep it honest.

Build up the levees and storm walls to protect the city and consider letting some it become a park rather than residential areas.

But don't abandon it.


David Thomson said...

The rebuilding of New Orleans should not directly encourage the return of the permanent underclass. These people are far better off in a new environment. It may be about their only chance to escape a culture of welfare dependency. New Orleans must focus on becoming the land of the entrepreneur and the gainfully employed. Our tax dollars should not be used for any other purpose.

flenser said...

I'm leaning towards the "not rebuild" option. Yes, there has to be a port in that general location. And that port will end up with a city around it. And we can call that city New New Orleans if we want. But it just seems to make no sense to build a city surrounded by water and below sea level. Move it ten miles up-river and dredge a passage if neccessary.

Rick Ballard said...

The Stafford Act covers the responsibilities of the Federal Government when the President declares an emergency requiring Federal assistance. I noticed today that the backdown from the $200B has begun. That's a very good thing because spending $200B has as much to do with reality as the 10K dead figure that Nagin spouted.

I believe that I will continue to wait for actual damage assessments to be completed prior to commenting on how much and how money should be spent. I agree with Terrye that transparency is is a key issue. I would add that stiffening the penalties for fraud wrt to spending Fed funds would be a very good idea. The Stafford Act penalties for misappropriation are laughable. It will take the threat of 10 years hard time at Leavenworth to keep the LA rats from carting off the Fed cheese.

New Orleans should be rebuilt - but not by LA crooks.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

We'd all love to see the plan for rebuilding New Orleans without involving the crooked Democratic machine running the state.

The original part of NO (the "vieux carre") was above see level, and so was the next part built ("uptown", or "the garden district"). My own preference is to pull it back to that level, put walls around that part, and leave the other part as a huge park as Terrye suggests. But what I think will surely have nothing to do with how it actually comes out.

terrye said...


Well what any of us think will have nothing to do with it.

Things like this tend to take on a life of their own.

But I do disagree with something flenser said: New Orleans will be more or less where it always was, just maybe smaller. Most of the city will not be abandoned, in fact some parts of New Orleans suffered little damage.

I think the damage estimates might have been exaggerated, like everything else.

But New Orleans was an old city when the Civil War was fought. I don't see it just going away.

Knucklehead said...

If we don't rebuild atop today's rubble what will tomorrow's archeologists dig through?

It seems completely preposterous to me to rebuild some portions. It seems inevitable to me that other portions will be revamped, updated, and so forth.

Five or so years out those who do not have a native's knowledge of New Orleans will recognize it as very similar to what it was. Those with a native's knowledge will hardly recognize it.

Cities come and cities go. In between those points humans apparently rebuild them time and again.

chuck said...

But New Orleans was an old city when the Civil War was fought. I don't see it just going away.

And Degas spent time there visiting family, link. But I tend to agree with those who recommend restricting the city to the high ground. Perhaps some development could be allowed in lower areas with the understanding that they would be flooded on occasion. How such zoning could work in practice, I haven't the slightest. Anyway, the city might do better if it was smaller, because its economy really wasn't that large to start with.