Since Hurricane Katrina, the murder rate in New Orleans -- always high -- has shot skyward. Nicole Gelinas, in the City Journal ("Baghdad on the Bayou"), offers the statistics:
"In 2004, the year before Katrina, New Orleans suffered 265 murders, yielding a murder rate of 56 per 100,000 residents -- already four and a half times higher than the average for similar-size cities. In 2006, the year after Katrina, the flood-ravaged, much smaller city logged 162 murders -- a rate of at least 77 per 100,000 people, even assuming the most generous quarter-by-quarter repopulation figures available. (New Orleans has recovered less than half its pre-Katrina population of about 470,000.) In the first 64 days of 2007, New Orleans's murder rate scaled even higher -- more than 87 per 100,000 residents. Such a rate in New York City would mean nearly 7,000 murders a year, well over the 2,262 it experienced at the height of its Dinkins-era violent-crime crisis 17 years ago. Other violent-crime indexes -- from assault to armed robbery -- have moved in a similar direction."
Before the storm, New Orleans had 23 major hospitals and other medical facilities. According to a Brookings Institution report, as of last month, 10 remain closed, including acute-care hospitals, psychiatric clinics and long-term disability and rehabilitation facilities.
Dysfunctional before, disastrous today. If there is to be any hope for New Orleans it must rest upon reality: build on higher ground; reform the justice system to truly punish violent crime; reform welfare to discourage illegitimacy as most other cities and states have done; and permit choice in education. Instead, we are being urged, in the name of compassion and justice, to throw good people back into a terrible situation and to invite another catastrophe.