From The Mailbag
I’ve been meaning to start posting some of the letters and emails that I receive. This one was too good to pass up.
A Modest Proposal
Yep, today for the first time, I agreed with George Will, with some minor changes.
George believes that we can get New Orleans re-built if bureaucratic rules can be set aside. Unfortunately, if rules are set aside, oversight is set aside and I guaran-damn-tee you that builders and homeowners will take advantage of that lack of oversight. When building codes are ignored, public safety is compromised. Obviously, this is why we have codes, rules and ordinances. Republicans still can't understand that.
Look at what happened to $8.5 Billion dollars that was delivered in brown paper bags to Paul Bremer and the Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. It disappeared because there were no accounting rules to be followed. Most of the reconstruction money that has been sent to Iraq has been spent......for what? There is no evidence that the money has been used properly, but no Congressional oversight is happening. Why? Because they are afraid to find the truth.
Back to New Orleans. If a WPA-like program (yes a Rooseveltian program), were to be instituted with qualified professionals (professors and practitioners of architecture) placed in charge of work groups consisting of thousands of architectural students, augmented by trades people who are under-employed, then N.O. can be back on it's feet in no time. Additionally, what is constructed could have more than a little individual design flair, effectively putting N.O. on the map again as a cultural center.
Emptying the architecture schools for a couple of years will be more beneficial than you can imagine, without a downside, especially if bookwork can occur concurrently. To get an architecture license in any State, one must have a combination of a 5-year degree and 3-years of practical experience. What difference does it make to mix up the normal order of academics and experience? At the end of the 8-year process that I am proposing, we will have better qualified young architects and New Orleans will be fixed.
There will be a large number of people who believe that public money should not be flushed down the New Orleans toilet, given the relative location to sea level and I would agree in principle, but my primary point is that New Orleans should not cease to exist.
If it is more rational to move or raise the City, then rational decisions should be made. It is not rational to throw money at a bad idea, but it is my understanding that not ALL of New Orleans is beyond remediation.
New Orleans, like New York is part of our culture and deserves our attempt to preserve it.
Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a country where this sort of creative solution could actually be implemented? For all of the problems that I had with President Clinton, I can’t help but think that if he were still in charge, this sort of rebuilding program would have already been put in motion. We all know that Bush isn’t busy trying to rebuild New Orleans, he’s busy trying to figure out how to funnel reconstruction money to his cronies. It’s sad the amount of damage one bad President can do. Let’s hope that one good one can make some serious progress toward repairing the damage that’s been done.
Let me know when you decide to run for office Mr. Crawley, I’ll surely vote for you, even if I have to move to Austin to do it.