Living and Giving

New Orleans\’ Homes Rebuilt in Other Locations: Should You Rebuild Elsewhere?

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I want to share something I read by Edward Glaeser, about rebuilding New Orleans:

After Hurricane Katrina, the building boosters wanted to spend hundreds of billions rebuilding New Orleans, but if $200 billion had been given to the people who lived there, each of them would have gotten $400,000 to pay for moving or education or better housing somewhere else. Even before the flood, New Orleans had done a mediocre job caring for its poor. Did it really make sense to spend billions on the city’s infrastructure, when money was so badly needed to help educate the children of New Orleans? New Orleans’ greatness always came from its people, not from its buildings. 

Wouldn’t it have made more sense to ask how federal spending could have done the most for the lives of Katrina’s victims, even if they moved somewhere else?  Ultimately, the job of urban government isn’t to fund buildings or rail lines that can’t possibly cover their costs, but to care for the city’s citizens. 

A mayor who can better educate a city’s children so that they can find opportunity on the other side of the globe is succeeding, even if his city is getting smaller. 


Edward Glaeser\’s view on New Orleans is compelling.  Absolutely the funds must be put to use in the best way. Yet that\’s the challenge: How do you measure the value of home, the value of history, the value of where you have lived spiritually, mentally, emotionally?

I support Glaeser\’s efficient view, if the people of New Orleans agreed they were willing to set up home elsewhere.

The people of New Orlean must have their homes rebuilt physically with the appropriate financial resources.   Let\’s realize, too, that our home can\’t be measured.  What do you recommend?