Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Mason Gaffney discusses Hurricane Katrina and Recovering from Another Great Disaster, the San Francisco earthquake of 1906: "How did a city [San Francisco] with so few assets raise funds to repair its broken infrastructure and rise from its ashes? It had only the local property tax, and much of this tax base was burned to the ground. The answer is that it taxed the ground itself, raising money while also kindling a new kind of fire under landowners to get on with it or get out of the way."

"Even in the flooded and abandoned areas [of New Orleans] there is strong demand from absentee bottom-fishers looking for a free ride up the price elevator as the efforts of others bring back the neighborhoods. Yet this kind of dynamism is worse than stasis. These absentees choke out other buyers aiming to commit themselves -- to rebuild and reside and make neighborhoods.... Mayor Nagin of New Orleans tells the world that Katrina wiped out most of his tax base, so he is impotent."

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