The N.O.P.D. was notorious long before Katrina for failures of leadership, professionalism, and discipline. The department was one of the most poorly paid in the country—even the highest-ranking patrolmen earned less than eight hundred dollars a week before taxes. Officers had to buy their own uniforms, gun belts, raincoats, and handcuffs—everything except a badge, a gun, a radio, and a nightstick. They were required to live within the city limits, and many sent their children to New Orleans’ notoriously underfunded public schools. Nearly all patrolmen worked private security details to make ends meet. For instance, Sabrina Richardson, the single mother of an eight-year-old boy, worked eight-hour shifts for the department and then a midnight-to-six shift in a Wal-Mart parking lot. On weekends, she patrolled the stands of the Superdome. “My son didn’t like it,” she said. “I’d tell him, ‘You gotta suck it up. Put on your tough skin, and man up!’ ”?I'm still gobsmacked when I re-read the paragraph. A full-time policewoman has to work two extra jobs just to get by? How can that be?
Why couldn't New Orleans pay their police officers a decent wage?
Now I've been mulling it over and this is my working hypothesis on what is going on: poor neighbourhoods in US cities have poor schools because schools are funded by property taxes in that neighbourhood. And as for the police, some cities - like Detroit, for example - fund them poorly because the city itself is poor because all the industry and prosperity have all moved outside of city limits (where, incidently the schools are better). I'm not sure why New Orleans is so poor.
Which leads to this question: is there no tax system at all in the United States that can redestribute nearby wealth into poor neighbourhoods? (other than the money raised by the State Lottery.)
Its funny - the more I search for answers when reading about city, social and environmental issues, the more I have been thinking "man, this could be fixed with some tax reform". Except, no one ever seems to mention tax reform as a solution to these sorts of things.
Can any one recommend a good book on this topic?