A chance to take on the cycle of poverty.
Hurricane Katrina has given us a chance to do something serious about urban poverty. That's because it was a natural, disaster that interrupted a social, disaster. It separated thousands of poor people from the rundown, isolated neighborhoods they were trapped in. It has created as close to a blank slate as we get in human affairs, and has given us a chance to rebuild a city that wasn't working. The only way to break the cycle of poverty is to integrate people who lack middle-class skills into neighborhoods with people who possess these skills and insist on certain standards of behavior. For New Orleans, the key will be luring middle-class families into the rebuilt city, making it so attractive to them that they move in, even knowing their bkocks will include some poor people. As people move in, the rebuilding effort could provide jobs. Churches, the police, schools, and social, welfare agencies could weave the social networks vital to resurgent communities. The feds could increase tax credits, so workers can rise out of poverty. Tax taws could encourage business development. We can't win a grandiose war on poverty, but after a tragedy comes opportunity.--David Brooks [9/08/05]