So, I'm hangin' out with the ol' brain trust the other day on a rare slow night in the burrito stand kitchen. We were just throwing ideas around regarding things that may help New Orleans & the Gulf Coast really accelerate this recovery and provide the long term economic impact needed to revitalize and diversify the area's economy.
Several things inspired my personal contributions to the list, which was designed to be a more 'outside the box' list of things to look at. I read that New Orleans is looking to host more Consulates. I've also been reading a book you may have heard of but haven't picked up yet, it is called The Central Liberal Truth which 1) is an actually infuriating read for me, but 2) is more important than it will ever get credit for, and 3) isn't about what you think it is. Also, this last weekend ended up with me spending a lot of time with the family, and read this piece from Leigh C. about community. Lastly, I keep up with both JMac regarding homegrown initiatives to curb poverty in Athens, Georgia and Da Po' Boy's dissections of financial chicanery in the Gulf region, especially those parts about insurance.
Well, that's a whole lot of name dropping and set-up, anyway.
Some brainstorms for New Orleans & the Gulf Coast:
An insurance co-op. Private companies are bailing or raising rates so high folks and businesses are choosing to go without. That is not good news for any kind of economic recovery. Since the state can't seem to get a disaster fund together (a la Florida 92-04, 04-present day) to bail insurance companies out when catastrophe strikes, and can't seem to get money effectively to the people, it is time to find another way. Homegrown insurance co-op, the policy holders are the shareholders, and any "profit" made goes into administration, investment (in stuff like US Treasury Securities - gifts that keep on giving), and finally payouts to shareholders when disaster strikes and lowering rates when it doesn't.
Some form of microlending. I don't know too much about this, but there are many smart people out there who do and who are making a difference in poverty crushed areas by getting plans like this together. I will be watching Athens closely in case something like this actually makes it off the ground there.
Since we're talking about collective community financial solutions, another idea would be for the City of New Orleans to buy the New Orleans Saints. Green Bay owns their team, after all. That sure would answer the long term questions, now, wouldn't it? I mean, maybe not the city, but a citizens' organization or something. Well, hell, why not the City? I'm sure that would increase both voter turnout, involvement and encourage leading citizens to make sure things were run better - because a losing season could spell defeat at the polls. Plus, I'd love to see Ashley run for Mayor - or at least City Council.
In other sports related ideas, and this would be trickier on a whole other level, but if we could get the Big 12 to get rid of their northern division, they could reform the old South West Conference, and have Arkansas back, then we could demand Tulane re-join the SEC and start caring about football again. I mean, having the Sugar Bowl rocks, but can you imagine the difference: Rice vs Tulane in New Orleans or University of Tennessee vs Tulane in New Orleans? I mean, at least two of Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss or LSU would show up every single year in New Orleans, and that's not counting having Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Florida on the roatation as well.
I mean, how much cash does this town make off the Sugar Bowl every year? Yeah, now imagine having at least seven more games in the SuperDome close to that level.
And while we're talking about the Sugar Bowl, it is high time SEC Alumni Associations build one big SEC Center/Hotel in New Orleans. It ain't like this city isn't lousy with SEC alumni in the first damn place, and secondly - how hard is it -really- to sell SEC alums on a convention in New Orleans during the off season? I ain't never heard nobody say "hell no, I don't want to go to New Orleans this weekend - I got stuff to do in Columbia."
Crazier ideas still to come....