Sustainability or E.D.??
I’ve been thinking a lot about sustainability lately and, oddly, only a small part of that time had anything to do with sex since I’m not even sure that’s the right word for what I was thinking. Anyway, with the S& WB problems, Entergy’s expenses to rebuild the grid, the bridge collapse in Minnesota, the mine collapse…it just goes on and on. Makes me wonder what the hell is going on. I’m going to ignore the preamble Industrial revolution that started in the late 1700’s for a second and focus on the Second, more sincere, Industrial Revolution that began in the late 1800s or so. Without taking anything away from the accomplishments of the Revolution, I find myself wondering if we created something fundamentally unsustainable? In some ways that’s very true, but wait, there’s more. If you figure the Information Revolution started (in theory) in the 1930s or so and began in earnest in the 1950s then its a pretty easy jump to say the emergence of that revolution radically changed our priorities which allowed us to neglect the things that got us there. So you could argue that we built something unsustainable (or more accurately: that takes a lot of effort/cost to maintain) and then we sort of started taking it all for granted, which caused its value to us to drop, so we didn’t invest as much in maintenance…etc. So there’s the logic for good or bad – for right or wrong.
Seems to me that between our sense of entitlement and our arrogance; tempered with our unending need to feel sorry for ourselves, the human race has basically crippled itself. And we’ve built systems over the last hundred or so years that reflect those shortcomings in our nature. Here in New Orleans the time line for infrastructure failure has been sped up. Where the slow degradation of sewer pipes, water pipes, the electric grid, etc is happening at a much slower pace around the rest of the country, we got in the car pool lane with Katrina driving and got there much quicker. And really, what the rest of America should be upset about with regard to New Orleans’ rebuilding efforts is that our shit wasn’t in good condition before the storm. The roads weren’t nice, the schools sucked, water pressure and quality were bad, flood pumps weren’t maintained properly, levees weren’t maintained properly, the list goes on. Cox Communications had probably the best infrastructure in the city that I know of if for no other reason than it was newer and as a result, they recovered more quickly.
I mean, honestly, I look around my own neighborhood at the pitiful shape things are in but it has little to do with the storm. The storm may have made an already bad situation worse but it didn’t create the bad situation. Years of neglect and poverty created the situation. Houses that haven’t had even modest up keep done in decades took a beating they weren’t prepared for. New Orleans has a lot of really nice architecture but New Orleans also has a lot of old, poorly constructed pieces of shit too.
So with all this money allegedly coming in to fix things (somebody may need to check “Dollar Bill’s” freezer again), it seems like a good time to think about sustainability. Are we going to rebuild in the ignorant way it was built the first time and let it deteriorate, or are we going to build systems that are sustainable and then dedicate ourselves to maintaining them? Are we going to continue to accept the corruption in our politics that undermine any effort to improve things? Are we going to allow the criminal element to rule the streets? Hell, our politicians are criminals so the outcome isn’t that surprising. And maybe they’ll put William Jefferson in jail and maybe they won’t, but we’ll still have his daughter and many others that will do what is best for their career or for personal benefit than to do what is right for the people. We elected them so we’ve only ourselves to blame.
The fact is, that democracy is a strange and wonderful beast. And I don’t want to argue about whether we’re a real democracy, but the way we’re set up, it sort of falls to the state and local governments to provide a framework that allows for a good quality of life. Trash collection is a good example (on a side note, I won the trash can war – Richard’s Disposal dropped off a can without me filing a police report). Trash has to be collected and it generally falls to the city to take care of that, apparently at an enormous cost. That directly impacts quality of life. Should the city fail to provide the basic tools for someone to build a nice life for themselves, then the individual has the right, maybe even the obligation, to go somewhere that will. If you look at our population numbers right now, eh, it isn’t bad, but I think the money shot’s already on tape and the show’s over. People are looking at the city with fresh eyes now and many of them do not like what they see. It comes down to just one question: What does the city have to offer that I should come back for more than a vacation? And if you’re already back the question barely changes. I would be willing to predict that we’re going to see those population numbers fall, maybe significantly, in the next year or two.
The city is in real danger of crossing that line where many people are just going to have to leave – and not because they want to in a lot of cases, but because the city pushed them out. Even now it would be interesting to see if there’s a sort of transfusion thing going on. Is the growth slowing because less people are coming back or because more people are leaving? I dunno. I doubt anyone knows. But whether it’s the temptation of the grass on the other side or the frustration with local, uh, everything, people are going to be leaving.
The state’s just as happy with Baton Rouge having a larger population. I’ve even heard some conspiracy theories around the subject that are pretty outlandish…lol. So the state doesn’t so much care what the New Orleans’ population does really. Which puts the burden on the city government. It is my belief that the city needs to focus on quality of life issues – especially infrastructure and jobs. First, we need politicians that really act on behalf of the people who elected them. They must be forward thinking, smart, and dedicated to doing the right thing. It would also help if they weren’t completely out of their fucking mind – I’m talking to you (no)C Ray. To get that in place is going to be difficult because the electorate appears to be looking to their religious leaders to tell them how to vote. That needs to stop. Your religious leaders are assholes who live in a creepy world disconnected from reality where an invisible person lives in the sky and watches you all the time. They aren’t even qualified to serve the crackers and wine so you shouldn’t be listening to them for matters pertaining to reality. Think for yourself, look at the issues, and decide – that’s the responsible thing to do. If you can’t or won’t do that then just go to church that day instead of to the polls.
**This is a strange post even for me, but it’s what I’ve been thinking about. It even reflects the form I think of it in. If you take the first paragraph as the premise, everything after that is proposition inferred from the premise (er, I hope). You were reading a sort of informal logical syllogism and didn’t even know it. Syllogism is another word like sustainability in that I thought they both had a much more sexual meanings than they do.