Bottom-Up Growth in New Orleans


Much is being said about the grand libertarian experiment in rebuilding New Orleans. We saw how reforming the education system was considered a case against public education and overall government intervention. Nicole Gelinas at the City Journal looks at the urban renewal efforts in New Orleans that are taking a similar libertarian slant and at how the city is evolving post-disaster. Although also a firm believer in the free market mechanisms and individual choice, it is not that simple in New Orleans and the rant against planners might be slightly misplaced. The decentralized planning system hasn’t exactly worked wonders in Houston at least in terms of creating a sense of place or identity.

As John McQuaid at Huffington Post points out, the basic problem of New Orleans is “its siting, mostly below sea level, on an eroding, hurricane-prone river delta.” This context demands state and federal intervention if at all New Orleans should be considered suited for habitation. Man’s desire for controlling nature to suit his habitation needs does not necessarily triumph’s nature eventual dominance. I’ve no strong opinions whether New Orleans should or should not be developed but if it is meant to be built through a bottom up approach, it should continue on that path even in eventuality of a natural disaster.

Update: Nicole writes in to mention that she believes in good government that maintains flood control infrastructure and protect citizens from crime. I agree but like any rational entity, government will not giveth unless it can taketh even it means control over planning processes. Extremes in governance systems be it totally state-controlled or completely individualistic may not work and efforts should be made to find an amicable middle-ground.