A Scene From A Dying New Orleans

I didn’t have time to hit this last week, but the Harvey Gulf story is about as Day In The Life as you can get where New Orleans is concerned.

They’re picking up and moving out of the building that used to be known as One Shell Square because of the crime in the city.

The head of a major company says he is moving his corporate office out of New Orleans because of the crime problem.

Shane Guidry is CAEO of Harvey Gulf International Marine and its downtown office is located in the Hancock Whitney Center. He says one of the employees was almost a victim of crime in the CBD.

“A little over a year ago I had one of my female employees standing on the corner of Poydras and Carondelet and the car pulled up,” said Guidry.

He said men inside the vehicle tried to grab his staffer.

“Tried to wrestle her into the car, luckily bystanders assisted her and they got in the car at 7:30 AM in the morning and they drove off and they were unable to make off with her, of course, since then she’s left my business just because she was in fear for her life and it was traumatic. Look yeah, I’ve got to do what’s best to protect our employees and that’s what I’m going to do,” he said.

Landry says other workers are afraid to leave the office to get lunch, so the company is providing food for employees. So he plans to move the corporate office to neighboring Metairie in Jefferson Parish.

“My guys and girls just don’t feel safe and it’s my job to protect them, so we bring in lunch every day now, we have done that for the last six months and we’ve been on the hunt for property which we were fortunate enough to make a deal with the Texas Motel to sell us that property, so we can tear it down and move to a place where judges will put people in jail and judges will impose large bails on juveniles and a D.A. that will prosecute and a sheriff that will arrest.”

This is just a high-profile version of something that has been going on for years, but it’s accelerating.

We say this all the time, and it’s prosaic but at the end of the day it’s undoubtedly true and it’s amazing how little appreciated it is, but crime kills a community. Just kills it.

When the criminals take over an area, legitimate business bugs out. They’re the first to leave. Business will only thrive in places where private property and physical safety can be guaranteed. Business depends on inputs – there have to be money, labor and materials flowing into a business, so that the three can combine to created increased value and thus outputs which can be sold for more than what was put into the equation.

Put crime into the mix, and it crushes those inputs. Steal the output of a business and it drains the money to be plugged into it. Brutalize the people working in the business and the labor input will dry up as they refuse to work in an unsafe place. Pilfer the material inputs and the money and labor lack the ingredients to make a profit.

No businessman will tolerate such a disruption to his equation. That’s why Walmart closed four of its eight stores in Chicago; they realized they couldn’t make a profit with the people stealing all their stuff. Retailers all over New Orleans have done the same thing. You can see what that looks like if you dare to drive around in New Orleans East; at one point that was set up as a suburban retail paradise inside Orleans Parish, but crime destroyed all of it and what’s left are empty husks where stores used to be.

Now there are stores on Magazine Street and in the French Quarter closing, and you can’t blame them. It’s simple math in the end, though many of those entrepreneurs make the decision long before the math does. Harass and irritate them enough, and worse, show them evidence through the usual shakedowns and hassles from corrupt city officials that the political class and the criminal class are adjacent if not the same, and they will leave.

So they’re leaving. And Guidry taking his oilfield service company to Airline Highway in Metairie is just another example.


You’ve seen us talk about weaponized governmental failure before. To a certain extent this is a desirable result for an urban Democrat politician like a LaToya Cantrell. Running off entrepreneurs and their businesses has political value, because those are generally middle-class or upper middle-class voters, and those people want actual value for their tax dollars and they’ll vote accordingly.

Have enough of them in a city and they’ll make it possible you can lose to a Republican. To keep that from happening you have to do all of the mundane and thankless work a competent municipal government does: fill the potholes, lock up the criminals, actually teach the kids in the schools, keep the taxes low, provide reliable drainage, water, sewer and electricity. To do that is difficult, and doing it effectively generally means you can’t make off with big chunks of the city’s revenue to distribute to your cronies and fellow scumbags.

But if you run off enough Shane Guidrys and others, you’ll get the right demographic profile for your city’s electorate that you’ll never lose an election. With the middle-class and upper middle-class people gone you’ll have a thin skim of the rich, many or most of whom are living on family fortunes and don’t appreciate what they have (and are generally the most far-left people in town) and furthermore will pay a la carte for social services like private security for their neighborhoods and private schools for their kids. And then everybody else will be poor people with unsuccessful life habits who will sell their votes for peanuts in government handouts.

And then you get to rule. You’re ruling over a ruin, but you rule. And you can steal as much of the pothole money as you want.

The criminals run New Orleans. We’re not just talking about the burglars and the carjackers. We’re talking about the kind who wear suits while they pull their capers, too.

And that’s why Harvey Gulf is decamping for the land the old Texas Motel currently sits on, in a lousy but improving part of Metairie. They aren’t the first company out of the Big Easy and they certainly won’t be the last.



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