Judging from the various readings that we have covered in class for this module, it would suffice to conclude that New Orleans is going through the proverbial last kicks of a dying horse, and apparently this is a belief that Edward L.
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Glaeser seems to agree with according to his excellent article entitled, “Should the Government Rebuild New Orleans, Or Just Give Residents Checks?” (Edward, 2005). The article is among the most popular works which The Economists’ Voice had published back in the year 2005. Before we answer the above question, it is necessary to assess the importance and relevance of this city to the United States’ economy.
History provides that New Orleans came in being in the mid 1800s when water transport was cheaper than moving freight over land. As such, it was prudent that the government ensure that areas close to large water bodies and along river banks had a well developed infrastructure.
The rationale behind this strategy was that a highly developed city would encourage population growth, which in turn would provide cheap and direct labor for port operations. Given this position, it would be foolish not to build a city close to the mouth of one of the most significant American river systems, and thus New Orleans arose.
Following the invention of the locomotive (trains and railways), however, the city of New Orleans gradually started to become more and more irrelevant. Thereon it has become a downward spiral following the invention of roads, motor vehicles, and air transportation as these new modes of transportation are not only faster but also more flexible.
To make matters even worse, modern freight ships are becoming bigger with each passing day and therefore require much bigger berths than the port of New Orleans can provide. Combine all these existing factors and one will realize that the ports and pipelines in this city are not sufficient to provide full employment to the entire population.
Proof of this state of affairs lies in the city’s income per capita, which economists have established to be less than 20,000 dollars annually.
When one does the math, this will translate to about 75,000 dollars per resident, which is more than three times the average annual income per capita.
Edward has also highlighted the fact that the population of this city has been on a steady downward trend since the 1960s. My opinion is that it would be absurd to invest so much money to build infrastructure for a community that will not be around to make use of it. I believe that hurricane Katrina was nature’s way of driving the residents out of this city once and for all.
Former President Bush’s promise to help the residents rebuild their communities was ill advised and will serve to cause more harm to the United States’ economy. It seems more sensible to me to just give the money to the residents so that they can decide where to go next. Giving the residents will also help to reduce poverty and unemployment; if the recipients find an economically viable venture in which to invest the money.
Glaeser, Edward. “Should the Government Rebuild New Orleans, Or Just Give Residents Checks?.” The Economists’ Voice. 2.4 (2005): Print