The Corner

A Lesson in No Governance

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Mr. Lowry

I teach history at a small liberal arts denominational college in central Louisiana, and spend too much time on NRO every day. Among the classes I teach is one on Louisiana Politics and Government, and thought you mind the following interesting and useful.

Regarding the levee system in New Orleans, one cannot truly understand how lucky the city was just have the system that was in place without understanding the truly Byzantine structure of New Orleans politics, which requires separate governing boards for each levee that is built.

Rather one agency that is in charge of flood prevention, there are scores. Building in redundancies would have required more boards, which would have lessened the political power of those on the existing boards. I seriously doubt that even now, after this catastrophe, that we in Louisiana will see this system change because the structure is mandated by the Louisiana Constitution. Any change requires not just statewide approval, but must also be approved by a majority of voter in Orleans Parish. Given how many local politicians whose fiefdoms would disappear, that will not happen, and so we will see this disaster occur again.

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

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