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September   6

It's Time for W FDR

From Montclair's own Jersey Perspective -- the teen-penned Montclair blog we wrote about last week -- the best idea we've heard for rebuilding New Orleans. Actually it comes from Sam's grandfather. Instead of Halliburton rebuilding the house of the rising sun, why not the people?

Instead of bringing in some immense developer to reconstruct the city, why not create a modern-day Works Progress Administration to oversee a civilian-led rebuilding of New Orleans? Thousands and thousands of refugees from the city could be hired to do the construction of homes and buildings, giving them not only money, but a sense of ownership and pride in the rebuilding effort. Many of the city's residents were jobless or at least desperately poor to begin with. I can't think of a better idea both for rebuilding the city of New Orleans, and also lending a hand to the people of that city who were already down, and have been knocked out by Katrina.

September 6, 2005 in Civic Virtue | Permalink


Habitat for Humanity appears to already have something like this in the works:


Posted by: lurkerlady | Sep 6, 2005 3:23:32 PM

I had the same idea-- a government, not privately-funded program to rebuild and give out thousands and thousands of jobs.

Unfortunately, this would probably require us not spending over a billion a week in Iraq.

Posted by: latebloomer | Sep 6, 2005 3:26:31 PM

great idea. And proven to work.

Posted by: Kevin Lee Allen | Sep 6, 2005 3:26:46 PM

I like the idea of residents rebuilding their own communities. But some serious engineering challenges need to be overcome before you can assemble the construction workers: how do you keep category five hurricane winds and storm surge out of an area that is below sea level? Truck-in dirt and raise the ground level? All buildings on stilts? Hoover Dam-strength levees? Battery-backup water pumps? Everything that went wrong must be rebuilt with corrected solutions...

Posted by: Jim | Sep 6, 2005 3:52:23 PM

The painful reality is that you can't mess with Mother Nature too long. The city, if rebuilt, will just sink lower, the sea level is rising, and while getting the people involved in the solution is a step in the right direction, the real answer is the gradual deconstruction of New Orleans, not the reconstruction with the same or worse problems in the future.

Posted by: Jeff | Sep 6, 2005 4:00:19 PM

How would mortgage and insurance companies feel about this plan? And while the typical resident in these areas can pound a nail into a board, who's going to do all the electrical wiring, plumbing, gas/sewer/water and precision work? How will safety standards be maintained while keeping costs in control? What are the legal liabilties for accidents, damage, and negligence?

Posted by: Jim | Sep 6, 2005 4:01:19 PM

It is a grand idea - but sadly just that. The original WPA projects employed many unskilled laborers from the general population, but they also had many unemployed engineers and construction professionals working as supervisors and managers. And, as several posters mentioned, there are very difficult infrastructure problems to overcome to both rebuild New Orleans and keep its head above water comes the next big wind. Not to mention the bureaucrats of the banks, the insurance companies, and the endless litany of govermental agencies (which are themselves the WPA of the 21st Century).

Sad as it may seem, those of you who knew and loved the city as it was should hold fast to your memories. A place like that will likely not be seen again.

Please pass the Absinthe.

Posted by: conan the grammarian | Sep 6, 2005 4:30:54 PM

A great idea in theory, but would never work.. would be a disaster.

Imagine all the employees at motor vehicles building a home much less a city.


Posted by: Johnny Drama | Sep 6, 2005 5:50:32 PM

I think the boys at Jersey Perspective should write a blog on socialism and its effect on society.

Posted by: Johnny Drama | Sep 6, 2005 5:53:53 PM

Unskilled laborers build homes with habitat for humanity all of the time. Many high school and college kids get construction jobs for the summer. It can be done on some level. Obviously you'll need skilled professionals (engineers, etc), but there is plenty of room for others to be involved.

Of course - the contracts will probably go to Halliburton and Co.

Posted by: butchcjg | Sep 6, 2005 8:01:15 PM

Excuse me, a city of half a million people has a few skilled laborers. It is not just the downtrodden who are currently out of a job. All the people in the high rise office buildings are unemployed too. Unfortunately, the rebuilding of New Orleans will be as successful as the rebuilding of Iraq with this Administration at the helm. Many problems could have been avoided over there if they had employed locals.

As for the engineering, its already been mapped out. And if the Army Corps of Engineers ideas are no good, then we can confer with the Dutch who have figured out how to live below sea level. It would be too rational and fact based to give the contract to a Dutch firm that actually knows what it's doing. We have the technical knowledge, what we don't have is the politcal will to invest in public infrastructure.

Posted by: Cheaplazymom | Sep 6, 2005 9:09:38 PM

Cheaplazymom: you make no sense.

Employed residents are currently displaced, not unemployed. Sure, many small businesses are probably going to shut down, but any business with substantial profits, staffing, investments, insurance, and customers can relocate and/or rebuild. And certainly all the Fortune 500 companies with offices down there will take care of their employees through relocation or rebuilding the offices, all the while paying their employee's salary.

And what do the Dutch know about hurricanes and their effects on levees, dams, and environmental buffer zones?!

Posted by: Jim | Sep 6, 2005 9:47:36 PM

With global warming, those levees better be built skyhigh, then start thinking about rebuilding the city.

Posted by: PAZ | Sep 6, 2005 10:00:16 PM

Global warming,
I guess next you're gonna warn me about french fries causing cancer. Please do research before making irresponsible statements. Are you using Michael Moore as your inf source?

Posted by: John L. Farrell | Sep 6, 2005 10:37:52 PM

I heard a radio show this morning about the psychosematic effect of the hurricane on its victims. They stated emphatically that these displaced people would be much better off if they rebuild their own houses. It would give them a feeling of power and security over their own future. Sounds good to me...now we just have to figure out a way to make that happen......and get the kids to school - they need the security of a classroom setting.

Posted by: Lynn | Sep 6, 2005 10:56:02 PM

An addendum: all the talk on this site is of aiding and rebuilding New Orleans. I hope this is purely figurative, that the largesse is widened both emotionally and tangibly to include Biloxi, Gulfport, Houma, Metairie, Mobile, etc. Because those folks (in places I've never been to) are suffering too, albeit without the accompanying lawlessness as far I can tell via the tube.

Posted by: cathar | Sep 6, 2005 11:17:16 PM

Yes, Mr. Farrell, global warming is causing more and more severe hurricanes.

Like evolution, it's not just a theory.

Posted by: latebloomer | Sep 6, 2005 11:24:39 PM

"This Ain't No TV Show"
Hell No We Ain't Alright


New Orleans in the morning, afternoon, and night

Hell No We Ain't Alright

Now all these press conferences breaking news alerts

This just in while your government looks for a war to win

Flames from the blame game, names? Where do I begin?

Walls closing in get some help to my kin

Who cares?While the rest of the Bushnation stares

As the drama unfolds as we the people under the stairs

50% of this Son of a Bush nation

Is like hatin' on Haiti

And setting up assassinations

Ask Pat Robertson- quiz him.... smells like terrorism.

Racism in the news

Still one-sided news

Saying whites find food

prey for the national guard ready to shoot

Cause them blacks loot

New Orleans in the morning, afternoon, and night

Hell No We Ain't Alright

Fires, earthquakes, tsunamis

I don't mean to scare

Wasn't this written somewhere?

Disgraces all I see is black faces moved out to all these places

Emergency state, corpses, alligators and snakes

Big difference between this haze and them diamonds on the VMA's

We better look

What's really important

Under this sun especially if you over 21

This ain't no TV show

this ain't no video

This is really real/ beyond them same ole "keep it real"

Quotes from them TV stars drivin' big rim cars

'Streets be floodin,' B/ no matter where you at, no gas

Driving is a luxury


State of emergency

Shows somebody's government

Is far from reality....

New Orleans in the morning, afternoon, and night

Hell No We Ain't Alright

I see here we be the new faces of refugees

Who ain't even overseas but here on our knees

Forget the plasma TV-ain't no electricity

New worlds upside down-and out of order

Shelter? Food? Wasssup, wheres the water?

No answers from disaster/ them masses hurtin'

So who the f**k we call?--Halliburton?

Son of a Bush, how you gonna trust that cat?

To fix s**t when help is stuck in Iraq?

Making war plans takin' more stands

In Afghanistan 2000 soldiers dyin' in the sand

But that's over there, right?

Now what's over here is a noise so loud

That some can't hear but on TV I can see

Bunches of people lookin' just like me

Chuck D. is in the rap group Public Enemy.

Posted by: chuckd | Sep 6, 2005 11:50:13 PM

Chuck D is a racist, and adds fuel to the fire instead of trying to extinguish it.

Posted by: Johnny Drama | Sep 7, 2005 7:03:09 AM

Where was all the screaming about Haliburton when Clinton was pres?

No Bushie here, just looking for folks to be consistent...

The truth is, there are few companies that do what they do.

Great idea about the WPA, this is not an all or nothing proposition, public and private should both do the work.

Also, the WPA employed lots of artists. Can't forget them and their place in bringing back community.

Posted by: Profchriss | Sep 7, 2005 7:08:48 AM

you only look in the box -should be looking ahead instead of at "Fox"-
Ohpelia is coming -while the the death toll is drumming-

it isn't about race but a race against time-love reign on me-

and new orleans by any other name would have smelled so sweet with death
and the enemy ain't done by far it ain't done yet--

it isn't about race but a race against time-love reign on me

so shut your mouth now it's time to cry
as we see it all with finally opened eyes-get up off your soap box and use that anger for something more instead of becoming all you abhor

it isn't about race but a race against time-love reign on me

all that questioning ain't about finding the answers it's about opening old sores-pointing fingers and who's keeping score

it ain't about race but a race against time-love reign on me

Posted by: cstarling | Sep 7, 2005 7:48:30 AM


Posted by: cstarling | Sep 7, 2005 8:01:10 AM

Somehow I kind of doubt that ChuckD, otherwise known as Carlton D. Ridenhour, posts on Baristanet. Perhaps the phantom known as "Franklin," but no, not ChuckD. So that part is cowardly.

And what, pray tell, does a screed like the one posted above bring to the debate?

Posted by: cathar | Sep 7, 2005 8:12:06 AM

i felt poetic this morning

Posted by: cstarling | Sep 7, 2005 8:16:29 AM

And by feeling so, Clarice, you surely raised the level of discourse quite a bit above the level it seems to have sunk to around here lately, My compliments.

Posted by: cathar | Sep 7, 2005 8:23:35 AM

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