Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Katrina Redux

Some on the left have ascribed the total failure of the Federal Government in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to racist policies of the Bush administration and to a president who is incapable of understating the plight of the poor and dispossessed. As Ann Richards once said of “W”, “he was born on third base and thought he hit a triple.”

I believe the failures go much deeper than that. The failure is a direct consequence of a political philosophy which believes that there is a very limited role for government. Consequently, we have an administration that fundamentally does not believe that the federal government has a role in helping those who can least help themselves. It’s not overt racism but has more to do with social and economic status. The mind set of this administration is every man for his or her self. If you are poor it’s your fault and you get what you deserve.

These policies of very limited role for government directly impacted the ability of Louisiana to receive federal finds to improve the levees which would have prevented the terrible flooding we saw in New Orleans. The state Louisiana had repeatedly requested assistance from Washington to reinforce and build up the levees, but those requests had been repeatedly denied. The mind set created by the political philosophy of limited government simply could not imagine that this was necessary. We now know of course that this was penny wise and pound foolish; it is going to cost billions of dollars more to fix the problem now.

In a strange way this too fits with the role of limited government for now the Bush Administration is talking about reclaiming New Orleans not with federal funds but with tax incentives for his rich friends. You will recall he called them his base,” the haves and have mores.” he called them. Based on what he has said and done, I predict a wholesale giveaway to his wealthy friends for the cleanup and rebuilding of New Orleans all done in the name of smaller government and letting private enterprise do its thing and all at the taxpayer’s expense. We already have a model of this type of reconstruction in Iraq and one can see how well that is working.

David Goldberg