NOLA (continued)

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Yesterday and today New Orleans seemed, to judge from newspaper and television accounts, to be outside the jurisdiction of the law. Looting appears to be extensive, gunshots at rescue helicopters and law enforcement officers have been reported, and Fox News reports there were three killings at the Convention Center last night. New Orleans before the flood had a very high crime rate. Now it seems that the criminals for the moment are totally out of control: There's the equivalent of an urban riot going on while the city is underwater.

On a more optimistic note, consider the following suggestion from a frequent E-mail correspondent who prefers to be known as "Ironman."

At the risk of sounding New Dealish, perhaps a major economic development project could be implemented that would put valuable unused resources to work and solve public suffering.

There are probably thousands of habitable homes vacant and for sale in dying towns on the Great Plains. Now that thousands of Louisiana and Mississippi families may never have homes to return to how about the feds obtain the vacant Plains homes, provide them with some grubstake in an offer to refugee families, and see if they can make a go of it in rural Oklahoma, Kansas or Nebraska.

Worse thing is they give up and move back to the Gulf a year or two later. But some will stick it out and repopulate the Plains. In the meantime, these families will be in wholesome environs and not some squalid refugee center.