Paying attention to signs
New Orleans providing lessons for U.S.
By Tony Staley
Conditions in a post-Katrina New Orleans contain some lessons that our entire nation would be well advised to heed.
In addition to questions about when and how levees will be rebuilt are those about which neighborhoods will be allowed back and the continued toll it will take on the poor.
One problem the city is already facing is a shortage of affordable housing for the multitudes of low-income workers employed by a tourism economy.
Because housing overall is scarce, rents have tripled, putting what is available beyond the reach of many working class families. One way the area has dealt with the problem so far is through an influx of undocumented single males willing both to work long hours for low pay and to live in shared rooms in dormitory-type housing.
While New Orleans is an extreme example, in many ways it's a microcosm of what we face as a nation. Our country needs to find ways to more equitably share the wealth. We must avoid becoming a nation of extreme wealth and extreme poverty where even much of the middle finds itself sliding downward as health care and insurance costs soar and income remains stagnant.