September 9, 2005

WHY REWAREHOUSE THE POOR?:

Katrina's silver lining (David Brooks, 9/09/05, The New York Times)

As a colleague of mine says, every crisis is an opportunity. And sure enough, Hurricane Katrina has given the United States an amazing chance to do something serious about urban poverty.

That's because Katrina was a natural disaster that interrupted a social disaster. It separated tens of thousands of poor people from the run-down, isolated neighborhoods in which they were trapped. It disrupted the patterns that have led one generation to follow another into poverty.

It has created as close to a blank slate as we get in human affairs, and given us a chance to rebuild a city that wasn't working

Talk about not getting it. The problem isn't the poverty, which is just an effect, but the urban, which is the cause. What the Hurricane did is give us a chance to get rid of one of our worst cities and disperse its poor black population across the country. Do the same thing every few years to Detroit, D.C., Chicago, etc. and you could really make some headway on the black underclass. Of course, the white overclass wouldn't tolerate such a strategy. It requires disasters to get it done.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 9, 2005 12:00 AM
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