I understand the struggle but it is not like this sort of problem hasn't happened before and been surmounted.
San Francisco was leveled in the great earthquake of 1906 and came back in a most remarkable way. Lets take a look at a way to help the citizens of New Orleans while at the same time help the energy infrastructure for the country and point the way towards progressive taxation with the help of this nifty little article from a website calle Economicprinciples.com that looks at Mason Gaffney and his recounting of how San Fran came all the way back from destruction and how that can be applied to best rebuild New Orleans.
A century after the devastating San Francisco earthquake, are there lessons from that city's remarkable revival that might be useful to New Orleans today? There are, according to Mason Gaffney, professor of economics at the University of California at Riverside. San Francisco, 1907 to 1930, was a case study in born-again disaster recovery...
Gaffney goes on
"San Francisco bounced back so fast its population grew by 22% from 1900 to 1910, in the very wake of its destruction; it grew another 22% from 1910 to 1920 and another 25% from 1920 to 1930, becoming the tenth largest American city. It did this without expanding its land base, as rival Los Angeles did, and without stinting its parks. Its rail and shipping connections were inferior to the major rail, port, and shipbuilding complex in rival Oakland, and even to inland Stockton's. It was hilly; much of its flatter space was landfill, in jeopardy both to liquefaction of soil in another quake and to precarious land titles. Its great bridges were un-built, so it was more island than peninsula."
I didn't know this, but allegedly at the time, the city where Tony Bennett left his heart
was known mainly "for eccentricity, drunken sailors, tong wars, labor strife, racism, vice, vigilantism, and civic scandals.
If the Bad News Bears was a city it sound like it was San Francisco pre earthquake. So what happened?
Before I go on let me say that I am a Henry George guy, I am a Georgist, whatever that means, until recently I sat on the board of the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation - a Georgist organization and I'm co-producing a film (we have a distributor and everything) about poverty and its causes and solutions with a Georgist perspective - more on that another time.
Back to the story, George - the man who invented the term "progressive" and who wrote the best selling book on economics ever "Progress and Poverty" was a true original economic thinker and political philosopher who was at first deified and then vilified after his death by the economic cognocenti. One of Georges followers,Edward Robeson Taylor got elected Mayor in 1907.
Henry George? Edward Robeson Taylor? A generation of Americans born after the Civil War, at least a certain subset of them, accorded Henry George the status of economic prophet that a later generation reserved to John Maynard Keynes. George's great book, Progress and Poverty, appeared in 1879, at a time when Americans felt themselves at the mercy of economic forces they could neither understand nor control.
George argued that a single tax on land, exempting labor, buildings and other forms of capital, coupled with government prizes for invention and innovation (instead of patents) were a surer way to stimulate growth and insure an equitable distribution of income and wealth than were the more complicated schemes of income taxation then just coming into vogue.
I happen to not believe that a single tax on land would work now for lot of reasons but I do beleive it should be a massive part of a progressive taxation plan that would radically reduce personal income but force productive use of common resources and create loads of jobs and jumpstart the economy.
sorry about the little interjection...
Asks Gaffney, "If you had been a partner in writing Progress and Poverty, and composed its call to action, and become mayor of a razed city with nothing to tax but land value, what would you tax?" And that is exactly what Taylor did. He raised the assessment on land to replace the part of the tax base that had been lost in the fire. The city's credit was restored; it immediately began borrowing to restore infrastructure. Taylor gave way in 1909 to James Rolph, who continued in his footsteps for 19 years, building city-owned water facilities, tunnels, street-cars lines and a Civic Center. The result was density: tightly packed residential housing and taller buildings with more mass transit.
How exactly did single tax work its magic in San Francisco? In modern-day language, it solved a coordination problem. It forced people to get the most out of the land by building on it. (What is a skyscraper, goes an old saw, but a machine for getting cash out of the ground?) Taxing land disproportionately was a way "kindling a new kind of fire under landowners to get on with it or get out of the way," says Gaffney.
In 1907, single-tax ideas were in the air. Cleveland, Detroit, Toledo, Milwaukee, Chicago, Vancouver and Houston all had mayors who insisted on taxing buildings less and land more. "It was the golden age of American cities, when they grew like fury, and also with the grace of the popular 'City Beautiful' motif," Gaffney says.
The article closes
To help New Orleans, Gaffney recommends strong dose of Georgist tax policy, based on San Francisco's experience and designed to revive the private sector of the city --begin by adjusting tax assessments to tax land more heavily than the buildings that may rise on it. Plow the proceeds into public works for the city -- and rely on the federal government to invest in better flood controls for the mighty river. New Orleans city voted Saturday on a field of 24 candidates. A runoff for the top two vote getters is scheduled for May 20. That is time enough to compare the candidates' positions on city tax policy.
Look, this will work. People have already bought land in NO speculating on land value to go up. This method of taxation can be a total savior for the Crescent City and implemented in even small ways in other cities as a replacement for other taxes - dead downtowns nationwide will be revitalized. Places like Detroit and Buffalo would come back. This mode of taxation has worked incredibly well in cities around Pennsylvania. Philadelphia is slated to start implementing this taxation next year and this method has been used around the world with similar positive effects.