Hell waiting for high water – the devil in the details of the flooding of Jefferson Parish

Discussions of the legal and technical aspects of the flooding of Jefferson Parish following Hurricane Katrina are best left to legal scholars and expert engineers. I am neither and a post on those aspects is a subject for another day. For lack of a better word, I’m a behaviorist – and it is from that perspective this post examines the event and those that followed.

Among the most basic of human needs are a sense of belonging and acceptance. If and how those needs are met is determined in large part by our environment; and, in some fashion, we’ve all learned that we will be more readily accepted if “when in Rome” we “do as the Romans do”.

Although half-a-world away, shortly after Hurricane Katrina, London’s Telegraph described the “Rome” that is home to Jefferson Parish:

Congressman Billy Tauzin once said of his state: “One half of Louisiana is under water and the other half is under indictment.” Last week, four fifths of New Orleans was under water and the other four fifths should be under indictment – which is the kind of arithmetic the state’s deeply entrenched kleptocrat political culture will have no trouble making add up.

It was in the context of this “kleptocratic” environment that some did their arithmetic before the storm; figured the flooding of Jefferson Parish would result in a massive money-making opportunity; and decided too much was at stake to rely on nature alone.

One early estimate of loss from the resulting flooding of the Parish was $3-5 billion.  However, we’re only beginning to understand how much money there was to be made; but, more importantly, we’re also beginning to understand how.

Attached to the roots of the “deeply entrenched kleptocrat political culture”  is the rather charming custom of lagniappe.  In its bastardized form “give me something for lagniappe” becomes a kickback to the “in crowd”. Continue reading “Hell waiting for high water – the devil in the details of the flooding of Jefferson Parish”