New Orleans Shantytowns?

Economist Tyler Cowen posted on his own blog a link to his own piece in Slate where he suggests the key to rebuilding New Orleans is to recognize that the land in the city is still valuable, just less so than before, and to legalize shantytowns.

I’m with the commenter who thought this must be his own economist version of Swift’s A Modest Proposal. I mean, yes, reggae and great Brazilian music may have come from slums and shantys, but then, a lot of great music has come from non-shantys. The notion that it’s a perfect place for Caribbean and Hispanic immigrants is just… well, it’s abhorrent, isn’t it? “Now that we know it’s risky, let’s give it to the immigrants who don’t look like us” is what it smacks of to me, and will inevitably also sound like to many.

Though I like Cowen’s blog, I have to say I find this article disturbing. It reinforces that stereotype of mine that economists are willing to find value in anything, even when it’s at someone else’s expense.

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