APPEL: “Diversity,” Decline And The Failure Of New Orleans’ Politicians

Over the weekend I attended the NOLA 300th anniversary event at Jackson Square. It was very well produced though disappointing in that I was the only legislator in attendance.

Perhaps what struck me most was the repeated emphasis on the value of diversity as an attribute of economic value to a 21st century city. To my appreciation of NOLA history as the political emphasis turned toward diversity as the major driving philosophy of the city, so the city’s economy fell evermore into economic decline. In fact, there is an almost perfect time-based correlation relating when the city’s economy started to slide versus when political emphasis became focused upon diversity in everything.

Now this may be coincidence, but I wonder? In the early seventies New Orleans was in direct economic competition with Atlanta. During the ensuing time, just as in NOLA, Atlanta has had minority leadership. But Atlanta has prospered even as NOLA has declined. Coincidence? Or perhaps the minority leaders of Atlanta realized early on that diversity is an interesting talking point but in fact only a prosperous economy offers opportunity for all.

So, if Atlanta got it right and we got it wrong does the constant reverberation from NOLA’s political class of the value of diversity only signify trying to cover up the economic failure of the past 40 years or so?

Diversity is fine, it makes for an interesting city. But nothing replaces good economic policy aimed at building a strong, jobs producing, economy. Atlanta’s minority community learned a long time ago that it must be economics first, political correctness later. The result is a city run by African American leaders that demonstrates a healthy relationship between economic opportunity and social well-being.

There is no reason New Orleans can’t have that, other than poor choices made by the city’s leadership.

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