Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Not So Fast

Witold Rybczynski at Slate concludes that Hurricane Katrina has only accelerated New Orleans' decline that has been occuring for the past forty years. Though Mr. Rybczynski aknowledges that central planning is not as prevalent in American cities as in European and Asian cities but seems to conclude that that is a bad thing.

He couldn't more wrong.

While newer centrally planned cities of Europe and Asia may be pleasing to look at and make nice magazine spreads, they also tend to take on the characteristics of the organizations that created them: Cold and impersonal. American cities differ in that regard and that's what makes them great. They grow organically much like the old Midieval cities of old Europe. This organic growth creates neighborhoods which foster social integration in contrast to the high-density developments so favored by government entities because it conforms to a governments' priority cost-efficiency (ironic, isn't it) instead of the individual's interest in quality of life.

The article is correct that lack of political leadership is hampering the rebuilding process, yet it is incorrect to assume that the path of history cannot be altered. Louisiana and New Orleans residents are for the time being stuck with the current hangers-on in office but with elections in the upcoming months, that environment is ripe for change.

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