Combing through the past few days of newspapers is not enlightening. Obviously, you don’t read newspapers for enlightenment. You read them to be "informed," whatever that means. So, now I’m informed about the state of events in New Orleans. It took me an hour of reading dense prose to digest the following:
- Public officials are investigating each other and figuring out how to redirect blame for actions and inactions taken before, during and after Katrina. Emails from a FEMA official in the city during Katrina are being quoted extensively.
- Public officials are promising to rebuild even the hardest hit areas of the city. Plans on how to do this are sketchy, but the promises are delivered without any hint of uncertainty.
- Public officials are pleading for more federal money, or for the right to use currently allocated money free of current restrictions. Obviously the money will not be spent efficiently, but that’s why we need as much of it as possible.
- The feds are investigating fraud of various types arising from insurance and disaster relief claims. Crime is part of the inefficiency in ‘money flow.’
- Local officials are concerned about tent cities that are being used by out of town contractors. We want people to come help, but we’d like them to live underground or at least out of sight.
- Federal and state officials are concerned about illegal immigrants coming into the city to work on construction jobs. We love diversity, but we need to manage the ratios.
- The New Orleans Saints will soon move to San Antonio so that Tom Benson can get the money he deserves. Is professional sports the key to our city’s recovery?
- Soil samples from the levee breaches are being studied to determine what caused the levees to breach. Eventually these samples will become exhibits in court proceedings filed by attorneys who seek to represent the owners of flood-ravaged homes.
- The headmaster of a high-priced private school is leaving to try to create an innovative approach to education. This is not a front page story in case you couldn’t guess.
- The mayor of the city has proposed that we ease restrictions and allow more casinos into the city to stimulate our fledgling economy.
Someone once said that ‘without illusions there would be no enlightenment.’ I don’t know about enlightenment but I’ve had my share of illusions. And based on that personal experience, I have a strong sense that the one piece of infrastructure that the politicians (with help from the feeble-minded press) are trying to re-establish most quickly is the illusion framework. The first illusion that they have to get us to accept is that they actually have predictive powers about how to best rebuild the city.
Almost no one knows exactly how this city is going to be rebuilt. Why can’t we just admit that? Why can’t people just admit that they don’t know certain things? Ever notice that people who ‘know things’ rarely expound knowledge that runs counter to their self-interest? So what, exactly, is the self-interest of our politicians? And the press? And how does that self-interest affect what they pass on to us as ‘knowledge’?
Someone should take a soil-sample of that.