Friday, August 31, 2007

More Money For the Big Sleazy?

While we’re all remembering Katrina for a moment let’s think briefly about New Orleans’ real tragedy. It’s a dysfunctional city. It was before the hurricane and it still is.

Remember the famous video of the looting in New Orleans? Remember also, this was before the levees breached and the city flooded. Here we see New Orleans’ finest taking part in the fun.

A few hours later, the city began to fill with water and police were nowhere to be found. Nor were the buses that could have helped evacuate residents. Nor were any local authorities.

New Orleans is about the most dangerous city in the country when the weather is good. When there is flooding and chaos, it gets extra spicy down there.

The city has been “cleaning up” now for two years. According to the federal government (via Larry Kudlow’s article in The Sun) more than $127 billion has been spent on the city’s recovery. That would be nearly half a million dollars for every man, woman, and child in the city.

Hell, the GDP of the entire state of Louisiana is $152 billion.

Where is all that money going? Not sure but it’s certainly doesn’t seem to be helping New Orleans become a normal city again. According to City Journal's Nicolas Gelinas, crime is worse now in New Orleans even will half the population.
In fact, since Katrina, New Orleans’s murder rate has been higher than that of
any first-world city. Depending on fluctuating estimates of the city’s returning
population, it’s perhaps 40 percent higher than before Katrina and twice as high
as the rate in other dangerous cities like Detroit, Newark, and Washington.

The usual suspects are pleading for even more money to spend on what was always a seedy, theme park for anti-social behavior.

Rather than restoring the city to it’s traditional steamy squalor, a better goal would be to remake the city as a safe place to live and a productive place to work. President Bush made a baby step in that direction by replacing the failing public school system with a series of competitive charter schools.

But he could have gone much further.

As Kudlow says, if the Administration had declared New Orleans a tax-free enterprise zone in the aftermath of Katrina, it would not only have recovered by now, it would also be a fundamentally different place. And a far better place for the people who live there.

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