Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Fred Reed has a new column up about the looting and violence in New Orleans. Anyone familiar with Fred can pretty much guess his take on things. Not that I disagree. I grew up in Flint. I've seen what Fred describes first hand. Fred is also backed up by a member of the "black culture."

I really don't have much to add to either of those, other than there is a reason I left Flint to live in an area with a higher cost of living and lower wages. It certainly wasn't for a view of the bay.

Jerry Pournelle's son is in the Navy and reports from ground zero. The damage is worse than can be imagined. The "estimate" being tossed around now is $150 billion to rebuild. I'll say it again: estimates are based on previous experience. When was the last time a major modern city was recovered from the bottom of a lake and rebuilt? Before this is over, the total bill will make that $150 billion into chump change. For one thing, don't expect the official rebuilding numbers to include items like higher prices for building materials, gasoline, natural gas, electricity (How much coal passes any given point on the Mississippi River on any given day? Or, more accurately, "passed."), food, etc. for the rest of the country continuing for the next several years. It also won't include the costs born by local governments due to increased crime around refugee centers. It hasn't even been a week and Houston is seeing a spike in crime around the Astrodome. It also won't include locally depressed wages when the refugees decide that living below sea level in an area prone to hurricanes is stupid and decide to stay where they are. It also won't include the hidden, systemic costs of a massive increase in federal debt. Everyone realizes that Uncle Sucker will be paying for most of this, right? What percentage of mortgages are ARM's? What is the ripple effect of increasing the majority of mortgage payments in the country a hundred bucks, on average? That's a lot of discretionary income to have evaporate out of the economy.

A more interesting question is who will move back into New Orleans? I blogged previously about the likely drop in population. I wonder what the drop in per-household income will be? Could it become negative? Will the situation be temporary? Someone with an upper-middle-class income could most likely find comparable work in even a modest-sized city. If the pay ends up being a little less, the offset will be living above sea level.

Another interesting question posed by one of my co-workers: what happens when another hurricane hits New Orleans this season? There are tropical depressions lined up like beads on a string from Florida to the African coast. Even a Catagory 1 hurricane pushing all that water into wood frame structures will save a lot of demolition work later.

And I need to get back to work.


Anonymous said...

to answer your question:
I still plan on moving forward into NOLA. I've been planning moving home away from this less soulful non community of L.A. since I moved here from NOLA - the plans are still in effect, though may be delayed a bit.

feel free to visit my LJ s and comment or check out links, etc....
see the post from a loved one who stayed to take care of himself, his home, his neighbors - that were "doin" just fine" rebuilding

Ric said...

Well, they will be "doin' just fine" until FEMA shows up to first disarm them, then force them out at gun point. The last thing that FEMA can allow is local citizens helping themselves. It would make everyone question why we spend all that money on FEMA.