Thursday, September 01, 2005

sharing the pain

If you feel guilty about the suffering in New Orleans and elsewhere along the Gulf Coast, maybe it will please you to realize that we will all be able to share indirectly in the pain. Not literally of course -- you and I are in places with food and power and law & order and our own beds, with nobody dying next to us, unlike the folks in New Orleans and elsewhere.

It may seem to many city- or suburb-dwellers to be something out of Mark Twain stories, but the Mississippi River is still a critical economic artery for the United States, and New Orleans and its neighboring ports are crucial to the flow of goods along that route. A key White House economic adviser on Wednesday said the economic impact would be limited but this article in the Post offers a different perspective. For beginners, 60% of our grain exports go through New Orleans -- and the harvest in Iowa and Minnesota and Nebraska, which largely travel down the Mississippi is soon set to begin; a senior US Department of Agriculture official noted that if the disruption in river traffic goes longer than a week, it could be a serious problem. A quarter of the US supply of raw coffee beans are warehoused in New Orleans. And we've already seen the spike in gas prices due to disruption in the operations of refineries in Louisiana.

Stay tuned, and consider trading that SUV in for a hybrid...