A City in Ruin

3 minute read

RE “Why New Orleans still isn’t safe” [Aug. 20]: When I moved to New Orleans as a young man in 1967, I viewed the city with fresh eyes. As I explored Canal Street, I saw three monstrous pipes on the edge of the road and heard the deep rumble from the pumping station. I recalled that New Orleans is 20 feet (6 meters) or so below sea level. As I looked up at the clear sunny sky, I realized that New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen. If it took that amount of pumping on a sunny day to keep the city dry, what would happen when the water overflowed the levees? I love this city and think the Federal Government should pay to relocate the people, but never rebuild. Our government could spend $10 billion to restore the city and the levees, and another hurricane could destroy it the next day. This is Nature’s way of saying, “Don’t build here.”

The exposé on New Orleans was one of the most naive I have ever read. To think this city will rise again because of the “resilience of its people” is a fairy tale. To believe this city can be made safe in the face of warming global temperatures, powerful storms and rising sea levels is completely ridiculous. There’s an old saying: A boat is a hole in the water into which you throw money. The same could be said of New Orleans. The main lesson of Katrina is that you can’t fool Mother Nature.

Battle-Tested Leaders
William Kristol argued that “the soldiers who have done well in Iraq will be major figures in American life for the next few decades.” So we go to war and bomb Iraq back to the Stone Age, directly or indirectly causing the death of hundreds of thousands of people, spend billions of taxpayer dollars looking for WMD and terrorists, all so that we can train a few future American leaders. This is another classic example of warped Western thinking.

Happy Anniversary, India
Congratulations on the special report about India’s 60 years of independence [Aug. 13]. William Dalrymple’s “Business as Usual” was a brilliant piece of writing. India’s democracy is robust, and in the past 15 years, its economy has grown fast. Nevertheless, India could (and must) have much more human equality. The country is home to the largest number of poor and malnourished. And yet, as mentioned in your June 18, 2007, issue, the estimated cost of billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s planned 27-floor mansion in Mumbai is $1 billion, more than the combined annual income of half a million such Indians. As long as excessive bureaucracy and rampant corruption are not tackled, the dreams of equality and inclusive development will remain out of reach.
Ramesh Chandra Agrawal, BERLIN

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