NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 29, 2006

Congress has approved $122.5 billion for the Gulf Region, a figure incomprehensible in size to anyone but a politician.  The real wonder is that anyone is surprised, much less feigning surprise, that things are going poorly, says the Wall Street Journal.

New Orleans' plight is not the result of federal underspending.  The post-Katrina spend-fest in Louisiana will be remembered as one of the greatest taxpayer wastes in U.S. history:

  • First came the FEMA $2,000 debit-cards fiasco intended to pay for necessities that were used for things like flat-panel TVs and tattoos.
  • Then came the purchase of thousands of mobile homes that cost as much as $400,000 per family housed; the $200 million for renting the Carnival Cruise Ship; millions more in payments that went for season football tickets, luxury vacation resorts, even divorce lawyers.
  • Federal flood insurance policies surely will encourage many to rebuild in the same flood plains and at the same height as before.

However, there has been some notable progress away from the most damaged areas of New Orleans.

  • Coastal Mississippi is well on the way to full recovery, thanks in part to the leadership of Governor Haley Barbour.
  • The number of building permits in Mississippi is four times higher than in New Orleans.
  • The business district in New Orleans and the French Quarter, where flooding was minimal, are nearly back to the normal rhythm of life, but the neighborhoods that were overwhelmed with water remain mostly deserted wrecks, with electricity, hot water and sewage systems spotty at best.

Source: Editorial, "The Tragedy of New Orleans," Wall Street Journal, August 29, 2006.

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