This Is Fascinating

While the debate rages about who are what has been ultimately responsible for the plight of all those poor, largely black, people who got left behind when New Orleans went ‘under water’, this reuters article raises some fascinating points.

If refugees end up building new lives away from New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina may prompt the largest U.S. black resettlement since the 20th century’s Great Migration lured southern blacks to the North in a search for jobs and better lives.

Interviews with refugees in Houston, which is expecting many thousands of evacuees to remain, suggest that thousands of blacks who lost everything and had no insurance will end up living in Texas or other U.S. states.”

Officials say it will take many months and maybe even years before the birthplace of jazz is rebuilt.

Dynamic systems, steady state stable bad equilibria and shocks. Fascinating.

New Orleans did not always follow the trend. Historically, far fewer residents have moved from New Orleans than from most American cities, despite its high poverty and crime rates.”

In other words many people had become simply ‘stuck’ there. Actually, maybe the writer should have said because of the “high poverty and crime rates”, in chaos theory terms that’s precisely how things like ‘strange attractors’ and ‘sinks’ operate.

The possibility of this outcome had in fact been going through my mind. Obviously I’m in Europe, so I don’t really know at first hand, but I have the impression that this would be the best thing that could happen.

Mind you, I agree with Nicholas Lemann, author of “The Promised Land: The Great Black Migration and How it Changed America,” who is quoted as saying it is too early to tell. Quite. But here I think is one area where policy really could make a difference. Get these people into stable temporary housing, get them into jobs, get their children into schools. Then they won’t be going back.

The City Of New Orleans

While I was setting up a live sparring match between George W Bush and Tim Worstall over at New Economist I realised that George made his original provocative remarks on a show called Good Morning America. This put me back in mind of an old Steve Goodman song (Arloe Guthrie or Willy Nelson version, it’s the same to me), called City of New Orleans which has been going the rounds in my head over the last 24 hours. So, since I’m helpless to do very much for those poor folks stuck in all that water, here’s at least a little tribute.
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Ivan, ho!

Hurricane Ivan is drawing a bead on the area where I grew up – Mobile, Alabama from age four to eight and Baton Rouge, Louisiana from eight until I went off to university. Mom’s headed north to cousins’ in Vicksburg, Mississippi. True to form, Dad, stepmom and co. are staying put.

Ninety miles inland, where Baton Rouge stands, is probably far enough that the storm will have weakened considerably, and I don’t expect too much damage.
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