The New Orleans “deal”
Well I just got back from New Orleans and I was so struck to see these huge housing developments it’s just so clear that this thing that’s being called reconstruction is nothing of the sort.
The tragedy, in part, was created by 25 years of neglect of the public sphere, by the culture of neglect, that allowed the levees to crumble, that allowed the transportation system to erode to the point where it couldn’t handle an evacuation, that allowed FEMA to be this hollow shell run by contractors, who couldn’t seem to find the Superdome for days. So here you have a disaster that was in part a disaster created by this very ideology. And then you have billions of dollars liberated in the name of the victims of this tragedy and suddenly there’s a possibility for parents and teachers â€” for some of the poorest people in America who had been so betrayed by their government â€” to build the system they’ve always wanted, to build the housing projects that they’ve always wanted, and to heal from this shock by being a participant in the reconstruction. Instead of that, the trauma was actively exploited and the fact that people had been spread all over the country and separated from their families and their roots and their communities was taken advantage of, in order to turn New Orleans into this Petri dish for ideas that live in think tanks.
As if I weren’t already disgusted with these pretenders; these money-launderers (Naomi Klein described this similar impression when she referred to how “Halliburton treats the US government as its personal ATM for six years, [and]withdraws upward of $20 billion in Iraq contracts alone”)
The Bush administration indeed seems to be playing the role of legitimizer (for those uninformed or ideologically distorted enough to buy into it) for all the wildest dreams of the wildest , most radical capitalists (and also a few of the ones who many think would know better…but hey, it’s money, so behind every disastrous economic policy is an ideological justification peppered with nationalistic pieties, predrafted by the many think tanks that have increasingly dotted the landscape of debates on nearly every issue.
Something else that so impressed me about Klein’s book is the extensive citations and sources:
I actually had seven research assistants at various points. We set up a sort of research institute to do a lot of research in a relatively short period of time. It took four years to do this book but it covers so much ground that it really did require this extraordinary team of people. And then we had four lawyers vetting the material through a really rigorous process of having to produce the original documents for every claim in the book.