Catastrophe in Big Easy demonstrates big government’s failure

Writing from Orlando, Florida

An excellent article by David Boaz of the Cato Institute titled “Catastrophe in Big Easy Demonstrates Big Government’s Failure” (available here: http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=4819) explains how miserably the government at all levels performed before and after Hurricane Katrina.

The disaster started long before this year, when government spent a lot of money in Louisiana, but didn’t protect it from hurricanes: “During the Bush administration, Louisiana received far more money for Army Corps of Engineers civil projects than any other state, but it wasn’t spent on levees or flood control. Surprisingly enough, it was spent for unrelated projects favored by Louisiana’s congressional delegation.”

After the hurricane struck, it seemed that government spent most of its efforts trying to keep out the scores of private-sector entities that were responding to the need. “Meanwhile, despite FEMA’s best efforts, immediately after the hurricane the private sector — businesses, churches, charities, and individuals — began to supply services to the victims.”

What really hurts is to realize who it is that suffered the most. “Who were the people who suffered most from Hurricane Katrina? The poorest residents of New Orleans, many of them on welfare — the very people the government has lured into decades of dependency. The welfare state has taught generations of poor people to look to government for everything — housing, food, money. Their sense of responsibility and self-reliance had atrophied. When government failed, they had few resources to fall back on.”

After all this, who could want more government? It seems that some do — quite a few, according to The New York Times, which today published an article titled “Voters Showed Less Appetite for Tax Cuts.” It contains this sentence: “It may be, some analysts suggested, that after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and this year’s Gulf Coast hurricanes, Americans saw the value of government investment in infrastructure, public safety and other services and are now more willing to pay for it.”

I think if people looked at the job that government does, compared with what the private sector can do even when it is not required to do so, they would realize that more government is not the answer.

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