The View From 1776
Sunday, April 20, 2008
The god That Failed New Orleans
Why does much of New Orleans still look as if the 2005 devastation of Hurricane Katrina had occurred just a few weeks ago?
Huge areas of New Orleans still are wastelands. New Orleans’s liberal-progressive-socialist Senator Mary Landrieu has grabbed far more than her share of Congressional pork. Hundreds of millions of Federal dollars spent for rehabilitation have produced far too little beneficial result. People were without electric power for months; the police department contained more thieves than honest law enforcers; drug-dealing and prostitution remain major enterprises; and the city still retains its crown as the nation’s murder capital. One of the city’s few “legitimate” businesses is casino gambling.
City and state administrations have yet to coordinate rebuilding plans, as politicians fight over who gets what share of the spoils. The best that the city’s Mayor Nagin can do is to demand that the Democratic-socialist Party presidential candidates pledge to send even more pork to New Orleans.
What accounts for this dismal record?
The answer is simple. New Orleans abandoned God and personal moral responsibility, turning instead to worshipping the atheistic, secular political state. That secular god has failed miserably, notoriously so in the aftermath of Katrina.
Today, rebuilding devastated poor areas of the city is the work largely of church groups from elsewhere in the nation who send missionary construction teams. Ultimately this may make for a better city in which people learn to help each other and to look to their own individual efforts and to Christian love for succor, rather than to the welfare-state god.
The Lord God, our Creator, is putting the god of socialism to shame.
Having been the largest and wealthiest city in the South after World War I, New Orleans after the great Mississippi River flood of 1927 stopped being fruitful and multiplying (Genesis 9:7). Sugar plantations and other sources of economic activity surrounding the city were devastated, as they were three years ago by Hurricane Katrina. The city’s ruling social clique settled into a self-centered, sensual social life.
Unhappily for New Orleans, Huey Long became Louisiana’s governor in 1928 and began building one of the nation’s first, full-bore, socialistic welfare systems. Franklin Roosevelt became President five years later, nationalizing and expanding the welfare state. Since then, generations of New Orleanians have made a career of living on welfare. Poorly educated blacks, who comprised a large percentage of the population, remained poor and uneducated.
Instead of the American heritage of individual responsibility and moral probity, the city’s large welfare population was taught to sit at home and wait for the welfare-state dole.
While Houston, Dallas, Atlanta, Mobile, and Memphis grew and prospered after World War II, New Orleans remained essentially stagnant. The old-time social leaders, who also controlled politics and the press, were content to let New Orleans deteriorate into the “city that care forgot,” while singing “laissez-rouler les bons temps.” Apart from the brief few years in the 1980s of off-shore drilling activity headquartered in the city, the city has steadily lost more business than it retained.
Since 1978, the city has had only black mayors, and blacks have controlled nearly all of the city’s major political offices. One might have expected them to do something constructive for the city’s poor blacks, such as cutting the crime rate, stopping the drug rackets, and improving education. Instead, black leaders followed the precedent of the erstwhile white ruling class. They adopted the old Louisiana conception of political reform: turn out the fat hogs and let in the lean ones. Black leaders became just as centered upon getting rich and powerful at the expense of the public treasury as had been their white predecessors.
Unfortunately, black church leaders are excluded from the halls of power in the secular welfare state.