Saturday, January 13, 2007

It's the Economy, Stupid!

James Carville, a Louisiana native and the political operative widely credited with orchestrating Bill Clinton's election coined the title phrase for Pennsylvania Senator Harris Wofford's campaign.

I must admit I never liked it. I think it is demeaning to call voters stupid. It's undeniable that it worked. Beyond immediate suppression of crime it is what New Orleans needs most to heal its deep divisions.

Maybe Carville should have been appointed Nagin's Recovery Tzar. His reputation and his personal brand of exuberant bombastic rhetoric might make a dent in some of the local politicos. The idea of the salt and pepper Cueball Twins has a sort of aesthetic appeal as well.

My recent trip to Florida underscored something I knew but hadn't expressed or really fully realized. The contrast between here and there really brought it home.

Without economic expansion to drive growth and development, the problems of New Orleans will continue. Low wage workers cannot hope for a better life for themselves, their families or their children without opportunity. A perpetually winding economy down can't provide opportunity. Government may provide assistance but can never provide the kind of opportunity necessary to make New Orleans a healthy city alone. The sickness which infects our city at its heart is slow starvation as we consume ourselves and our city is infested by the tapeworm of self serving politicians.

The first, most important step in economic development is public integrity. I've been told by many business people around the country they are not interested in New Orleans either because they have experienced corruption first hand or have heard stores of corruption. To build confidence we need openness and transparency. We need to drop mandates for the involvement of the "usual suspects". If someone from Ohio can do a job for New Orleans better and cheaper than a someone from New Orleans, lets hire them. As it stands now we are often spending more and getting less.

1 comment:

E.J. said...

wow, are you psychic? did you know that story about the guilty pleas in the Morial case was going to run today? ;-)