Monday, October 23, 2006

Rebuilding New Orleans

Why does the government need to rebuild New Orleans?

This isn't the first time a major american city has been destroyed. The Chicago fire, the San Francisco earthquake, the Galveston hurricane, all destroyed large portions of the cities, and all those cities were rebuilt by the resident populations and businesses of those cities. Granted they were all a few years ago, but the commentators that keep claiming that nothing like this has ever happened before are just wrong. The Katrina damage is bigger than those long ago tragadies, but it has happened before.

I used to work for Bank of America, and part of the corporate lore of that bank is how it grew from the destruction of the SF earthquake. It was then known as the Bank of Italy, and it was a small neighborhood bank in North Beach, an Italian enclave in San Francisco. After the earthquake, much of San Franciso was on fire. The Bank of Italy was a small, new bank, and they kept much of their cash assets in the vault of another bank. Clerks from the Bank of Italy went and removed all the cash and gold on deposit elsewhere immediatly after the earthquake, and they opened for business using a board sitting across two barrels on the sidewalk as a teller's cage.

That's the way America used to rebuild from disaster. Now it seems we just sit around and wait for the government to dole out money.


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