The rebirth of New Orleans does, . . . , require a leap into the unknown. It can’t be meticulously planned. Preserve the old buildings. Rope off the lowlands. But then let imagination takes its course. Unfortunately, Mr. Nagin’s Bring Back New Orleans group is loaded with central planners prescribing a dream city built around such highlights as light-rail transport, a “jazz district” and a neuroscience center. Typical is Michael Cowan, head of the city’s Human Relations Commission, who warned that “the alternative to a ‘good-enough’ plan for the future of our city is free-market chaos, also known . . . as every man for himself and the devil take the hindmost.”
Actually, it was precisely this chaos that made New Orleans a great city in the first place. It was planning — specifically, the horrifying housing projects, largely destroyed in Katrina; the stultifying school system; the Superdome and other wasteful public-works projects — that held the city back.
For the full commentary, see:
JAMES K. GLASSMAN. “CROSS COUNTRY; Back to the Future.” The Wall Street Journal (Thurs., January 12, 2006): A13.