What Hurricane Katrina says about risk
Certainly, Katrina, as with all types of disasters, took a heavier toll on the poorest and least powerful New Orleans residents, says Cedric Johnson, associate professor of African-American studies and political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Johnson taught 10 years at Hobart College in Geneva, and still lives in Rochester's 19th Ward, commuting regularly to Chicago until he and his family move next summer.
Johnson is the editor of a new anthology of post-Katrina papers, The Neoliberal Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, Late Capitalism and the Remaking of New Orleans, says that while New Orleans has a distinct history and culture, in many ways it is typical of most large American cities, with failing high-poverty schools, and gentrified neighborhoods alongside collapsing poor neighborhoods.
The neoliberal approach, he says in the introduction to the book, assumes market forces and individual responsibility are more likely than government activity to improve human well-being.