The disaster in New Orleans has created an opportunity for land speculators and developers alike, much in the way corporations see the third world. Only in our case has the Supreme Court already set up the legal framework for doing so. With two Bush appointees in the works, a land grab is only a matter of time.
Take for example, the case in Lakewood Ohio, where occupants of perfectly inhabitable housing were forced to leave their homes through a court order, so that the government could turn the property over to private developers, under the guise of "the public good". An article, published on a CBS website over a year ago states, "Cities across the country have been using eminent domain to force people off their land, so private developers can build more expensive homes and offices that will pay more in property taxes than the buildings they're replacing." (Eminent Domain: Being Abused?, 60 Minutes)
In Lakewood, the houses were not even "blighted". In the case of New Orleans, where many homeowners will be declaring bankruptcy, and wanting to liquidate property, speculators will be waiting around to snatch up land deals. New Orleans is ripe for "redevelopment". And just like Baghdad, Halliburton gets the contract for "reconstruction", though many from the South will argue that many places never recovered from the blight caused by the Civil War.
It is clear the eminent domain is being used as a means of transferring wealth to developers; a wealth redistribution scheme for the rich. The Supreme Court, in their recent decision concerning a case in New London, Connecticut, has endorsed this. An AP report quipped, "Cities may bulldoze people's homes to make way for shopping malls or other private development, a divided Supreme Court ruled Thursday [June 23rd, 2005], giving local governments broad power to seize private property to generate tax revenue." What this will mean for the poor is an eventual spike in rents, ensuring that many poor folks will never return to their urban home.
The privitization schemes have yet to materialize in full, but this too is a matter of time.
These land redistribution schemes have been played out over and over in other places, through international corporation and lending institutions, with the legal support of local governments. In many case in this hemisphere, with few options available, people took matters into their own hands. Similar conditions present themselves in New Orleans--people desperate for basic needs, governments that are complicit in land grabs, and US corporations always willing to make the "investment". It makes one wonder what the real reason for so much security and so little food in post hurricane Katrina was. Starving out and controlling a possible armed insurrection, in the wake of denial of food, water, and medical supplies, may be what proof lies in some classified memo yet to be released.