Monday, August 07, 2006

Priorities

America is a nation of great engineers and even greater monuments to progress. We are the creators of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam, and the Tennessee Valley Authority. This has been our legacy through the ages from the first shovels of dirt from what would be the Erie Canal, the spikes and crossties of the Trans-Continental Railroad, every ton of earth moved to bridge Central America with the Panama Canal, and every pound of concrete poured into the Eisenhower Interstate System.

All these projects were expensive, all of them when taken alone, benefited only small sections of the population at their onset. But overall, these projects proved far more worthwhile to America than just the dollars and cents, the concrete and dirt. It was all a matter of priorities. Say what you want about government being too big, the power of America as a whole to focus resources is a sight to behold.

Those are the reasons that it is not only necessary, but right, to make restoring the Mississippi River Delta a national priority. Those are the reasons that it is not only necessary, but right, to make the reconstruction of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast a continuing national priority. Third Battle of New Orleans calls doing so simple, yet complicated. What worthwhile undertakings aren't? But with good reasons for doing so, our priorities in the right place, and one hell of a payment plan, it can be done. It should be done. We do not give up American cities to earthquakes and fire, we do not abandon Florida and the Carolinas when hurricanes do their damage there. We should not give up on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. It is all a matter of priorities.


3 comments:

RightOnPeachtree said...

I don't think we should give up on New Orleans. What I take great exception with, however, is anything that is newly built below sea level (as parts of it currently are). That would be a mistake of asinine proportions. That's like building a city right along the fault line in California. It just t'ain't smart.

So, yeah, build it. But build it the right way this time.

I'm just sayin'...

Fishplate said...

New Orleans, as has been said here before, is in an untenable situation. It was unfortunately sited on a constantly changing piece of ground, and it may not be within our power to stabilize that land.

The Mississippi River has never been stable, and our efforts to make it otherwise have done more damage on a recurring basis. Instead of small annual rejuvenation floods, we have occasional devastating floods. Anyone who builds below sea level should be denied Federal Flood Insurance.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Building New Orleans back the right way has got to be the priority.

One thing I am positively sure of is our ability, if we make this a national priority, to make unstable ground acceptable for development. How many acres of Florida or Manhattan have been built on top of reclaimed land?

This is also the case in Hong Kong and the Netherlands, and I'm not about to give up on American engineering.

Building below or close to sea level can be a significant problem. For instance, down on Island City, new homes - if they are to be covered by Federal Flood insurance - have to be built on stilts to a certain height. I'm sure there are similar requirements in the Carolinas and Florida. Older houses that have made it thus far still have flood insurance that will run out once the current owners divest the property. (Much like how rent control in New York has been described to me.)

One problem we are seeing in the reconstruction and redevelopment is that there is a lack of adequate planning by all levels of government to determine what reconstruction/buyouts/flood coverage will be available and where.

Citizens groups and homeowners are organizing, but they are finding their attempts to move forward stymied by continued mismanagement.

The biggest reason this should concern us all is that, right now, a great deal of tax money that could be going to rebuild New Orleans the right way is caught up, which will all cost us much more in the long run.