Fucked New Orleans (A Series Without an End):
The awful news from New Orleans just starts to go on like a sickening low-frequency hum: murder, murder, murder, levee fucktardery, FEMA fucktardery, assault, assault, assault. Oh, but one hears that Jazz Fest is awfully fun this year. As long as, you know, you don't get heat stroke, alcohol poisoning, or injured in some way and need to be taken to a hospital. But, hey, all in stride, you know? Laissez les bon temps what the fuck ever.
The Rude Pundit, has been in touch with a New Orleans resident, let's call him "Jean," who describes himself this way: "a middle class, college educated professional, like my fellow friends who have left, are leaving, and in a state of confusion in a place we called home."
And this is how Jean describes New Orleans: "We are tired. Three years and counting. No place to send children to school. A police system ineffective. A hospital system that is no system. A place where leaking sewer and water lines in the streets is normal, as are rats and mice in the streets. A place where it takes 2 years to get electricity back in your house. A place where city blocks for miles after almost 3 years look like Hiroshima, Baghdad, and Haiti, all wrapped up in a blanket of bull...or shit...human shit...a place where shit, debris, mold and mildew are a daily way of life in the streets all over this dying city. And dying it is...with a cancer eating away at the soul of a people defeated. A middle class gone."
Jean, a realtor, deals with that unending hum all the time: "On Friday, 4/27/07, I finally got electricity on one of the apartments that make up my 120 year old house. I had started that process 3 weeks after Katrina hit. The painter did not show up. I still have a bunch of his money, but I am not sure if he skipped town, or got deported. One of his guys showed up while I was reading the paper this morning, sitting on my front stoop, looking at the two houses across the street slowly falling down. This guy never got paid...but hey, he gets the rest of the money if he finishes my house."
His career, of course, is particularly affected by dealing with bureaucracies small and large: "As a realtor, I do Comparative Market Analysis for the State program that has paralysis. I take pictures and figure out what someone's house was before the storm. This info helps the state decide how much money the homeowner will get. Last week they were supposed to process 8000 applications. The contractor I work for never received any applications, so I had no work and people get to wait longer for the chance of a loan or grant for their damaged property."
The exodus of middle class emigrants from New Orleans continues unabated, for, indeed, why live the rest of your short life on this earth hoping for the city to come back? If you can leave, who would blame you? Jean says he knows many people who have left: "An engineer who moved to the other side of the Lake Ponchartrain. An architect/close friend and family moved to Austin permanently. My wife's friends...teachers who have moved to Texas, North Carolina, etc." As for who's moving in, Jean says, "Brazilians, Hondurans, Mexicans, and a hodge podge of professionals from the Northeast." Carpetbaggers and aliens, legal and illegal. Seems like history just repeats itself with New Orleans.
Of course, it didn't have to be this way. Although, that's way too optimistic. Under the Bush administration, of course it had to be this way. Because sometimes a story so stomach-churning and obscene in its meaning crops up, like the article from the Washington Post about how our "government" was turning down millions of dollars in aid from foreign countries in the weeks after Katrina in 2005. This is not to mention that the United States only made the effort to collect $126 million of the $850 million that other countries wanted to give us. The Bush administration delayed so long in getting the cash that other nations just said, "Fuck it" and walked away, or they gave it to the Red Cross. The U.S. declined 54 of 77 offers of aid from, like, Canada. And that included search and rescue teams. Let's not even get into the Caligulan orgy of cash that contractors have engaged in with these funds.
Here's Jean to take us to the end: "I would like to write a book about this place...it would be called, 'It doesn't take a genius.' 99% of the issues with New Orleans can be solved in 1 week, with the right ownership of the troubles, and some follow through. To date, no one is taking responsibility for anything, from the Corps to the Mayor, to the President. As a result, we can guarantee nothing will be done right."