TCS Daily


Hey Big Spenders...

By Michael Rosen - June 26, 2006 12:00 AM

Is anybody really surprised that $1.4 billion in hurricane relief was steeped in fraud?

It's been widely reported that FEMA and other relief agencies dumped boatloads of phony assistance on the victims of Katrina and Rita, covering ludicrous expenses ranging from Hawaiian vacations to football season tickets (for whom? The San Antonio Saints?) to a divorce lawyer.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) went on a sting operation to reveal the incompetence, credulousness, and outright fraud that characterized much of the disaster recovery effort. By the GAO's count, fully 16 percent of the expenditures were "unwarranted."

But I ask again: is any of this truly astonishing? Huge amounts of waste -- and even bogus payments -- seemed almost inevitable from the moment that FEMA announced it would distribute debit cards to Katrina victims (indeed, they were: despite signing pledges to use the cards only for disaster recovery purposes, some recipients, according to snopes.com used them to purchase plasma TV's, expensive suits, even lap dances). Aid workers, with the best of intentions, surely found it hard to deny funds to the suffering.

Still, despite being numb to such sorry examples of human corruptibility, we are obliged to recognize that this is not compassion -- it's madness.

To be sure, the temptation to spend taxpayer dollars -- strong even during the fat years -- is especially enticing when tragedy strikes. Even a Republican Congress and a conservative president -- albeit, one who modifies the term with "compassionate" -- have proven susceptible to the allure of spending our way out of our problems.

The problem, perhaps, is that conservatives have set themselves up for charges of hypocrisy. By opposing spending as an ideological matter they're vulnerable to attack simply by not cutting expenditures or eliminating federal agencies (just last week, Michael Medved on his radio show renewed his call to wipe out the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development).

Thus, anything that falls short of large-scale liquidation triggers admonitions -- from left and right -- that Republicans aren't serious about trimming our budgetary sails.

A far better approach isn't to eschew spending altogether -- an utterly implausible pipe dream -- but rather, quite simply, to insist that government money be spent wisely.

Although this idea of accountability seems so straightforward, it consistently eludes policy makers. Why? And how can we make sure that our elected officials and appointed bureaucrats use our tax dollars responsibly?

Last week I heard a fascinating talk by Maurice McTigue, formerly a member of the New Zealand parliament and currently the director of the Government Accountability Project at George Mason University's Mercatus Center.

The Hon. McTigue also served variously atop several different Kiwi ministries (Employment, Labour, Immigration, State Owned Enterprises, Railways, Works and Development) and, perhaps most importantly, worked as chairman of the New Zealand cabinet's Expenditure Control Committee (something of an equivalent to the GAO).

Far from a department-slashing, anti-government radical, McTigue is very much "of the system," as his career in civil service suggests. For this reason, he enjoys credibility when he speaks about his lengthy experience in bringing accountability and transparency to government.

He shared an amusing anecdote that illustrates why trimming government waste is both so challenging and so essential. During one of his ministerial posts, an underling from the Department of Motor Vehicles came into his office and asked for a larger outlay for his agency. McTigue, in his telling, asked the supplicant why his office required additional funding. The bureaucrat responded that costs had gone up. McTigue, unruffled, asked why that was and the underling said he'd get back to him.

A few weeks later, when the bureaucrat returned, he told McTigue that it had become more expensive to process driver license renewals. The MP then asked a fundamental question: why does the government of New Zealand need to renew licenses every several years? After all, renewals required neither a new photograph nor an updated driving test. Again, the official promised to come back with an answer.

But this time, when he entered McTigue's office, the underling told him that no one in the office could think of any good reason for license renewals. He had discovered that the practice was a historical one: when licenses were first issued for driving horses and buggies in the early 20th century, they were printed on paper that wore out after several years. Thus, the need to issue renewed licenses. Not necessary, of course, in the age of durable plastic laminates.

Presto! An entire office vanished -- and for good reason (to be fair, the government does require, for security reasons, updated photos every ten years and, for safety reasons, a new driving test once licensees turn 70).

McTigue's conclusion is that forces of historical inertia are generally the culprits behind ongoing, wasteful government programs. The original justifications for creating projects, offices, and entire agencies often dissipate over time -- but their outgrowths remain. Only through careful investigation can such waste be disposed.

The MP has helped bring this approach to these shores. In testimony before Congress, in advice to the Office of Management and Budget, and in service at the Office of Personnel Management, McTigue has spread his gospel of accountability to good effect. As he described it, the federal bureaucracy has slowly begun assessing the success of various programs (indeed, when he first arrived, many agencies lacked any kind of metric for making such an assessment) and cutting back those with none. The list of inefficient programs lopped off the treasury's recipient list has grown steadily over the past few years.

[Closer to home, San Diego mayor Jerry Sanders has recently begun implementing a similar analysis in an effort to chip away at the city's massive budgetary problems. He says that when he took office in November 2005, he was shocked to discover that the city maintained storage cabinets of Wite-Out for use in correcting typewriter mistakes and administered a furniture-making shop to equip its offices.]

It's important to stress that this isn't an ideological approach but a practical one. While the concept of accountability is based on principles of good governance, it's also rooted in the realities of the budgetary process. And for this reason, it's a concept that should -- and does -- appeal to Republicans, Democrats, and independents alike. Fidelity to this principle -- instead of vocal theoretical opposition to all forms of spending juxtaposed against ballooning (real-world) budgets -- will surely enhance conservatives' political and practical standing.

This is a matter of morality, as well. As McTigue succinctly puts it, every ill-spent dollar is one that can't be used to benefit those who truly need it. In the FEMA context, every dollar spent on a 42-inch HDTV is one that isn't available for food and drinking water.

The economist Tyler Cowen, the Chairman of Mercatus, recently made a similar observation about private sector donations and spending in the New York Times. Cowen argues that donors need more actively to ensure that their gifts are being put to good use. Simply because their dollars go to charity doesn't mean that they can be spent unwisely; in fact, the charitable nature of their pet causes should oblige donors to demand accountability since waste harms their purported beneficiaries more than anyone.

Cowen's message, of course, must be applied to government spending as well. By insisting that the government spend our dollars responsibly, we can best articulate our compassion to those in need.

Michael M. Rosen, TCS Daily's intellectual property columnist, is an attorney in San Diego.

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41 Comments

It was a disaster
The issue is not whether to spend more or spend less, but to spend wisely. The debacle following Katrina is directly attributable to Bush's policy of weeding out career bureaucrats who may have been quite seasoned and experienced (James Lee Witt was one such) and replacing them with callow, ignorant political hacks and cronies (Mike Brown, for instance).

In a natural disaster displacing so many tens of thousands of families it was apparent that money needed to be spent intelligently and quickly. That never happened.

Disaster mitigation is one of the responsibilities of government. To that degree we are now operating without an effective government. And hurricane season is again upon us.

Not the first disaster, nor the last
In the history of the United States, there's been a lot of disasters. Whether or not the aggregate scope and scale of the calamity reaches some highly subjective mental concept of disaster doesn't matter if you are affected. If some F5 twister traverses some rural area in tornado alley, and only affects a single family farm, its a disaster to the affected. Moireover, even considering scope and scale, Katrina is not unprecedented-Florida regularly gets hammered-but do to a lack of unchecked liberal incompetence at every lack of government and a populace that understands "get out" means "get out", not standing around-there's never been a need for extraordinary federal involvement. Yes, they have their hands in our pockets-but the "woe is me" attitude is never as bad as it was in Louisiana.

Somehow, however, using terms like "catastrophe" or "disaster" is supposed to allow the government unlimited power so long as the action is putatively for "disaster relief". The rest of us are supposed to simply empty our wallets to fund the inevitable- ineffective and inefficient attempts remediation because the left imagines that it occupies some unassailable rhetorical moral high ground that justifies unchecked raids on the public treasury.

Roy makes the substanively bankrupt statement "The issue is not whether to spend more or spend less, but to spend wisely.". Yet this assertion ignores several problems.

First, disaster relief, though now a regular part of government nanny-state operations is extra constutional. So to paraphrase the mathemetician in "Jurassic Park", the first question isn't whether you could do it, but whether you should do it.

Second, there's no way to measure "wisely", therefore no way to establish generally agreeable criteria that will incorporate "wisdom". Indeed if government had "wisdom", it might have built better dikes and prevantative measures, but it didn't.

Third, the closest attributes to "wisely" one could incorporate into a government program are effectiveness and efficiency. Establishing the criteria takes reasoned and dispassionate analysis, not the panic-driven rush that drove the Katrina.

Fourth, The long record of government is foolish, ineffective and inefficient spending. But the left, in its lunacy expects different results from the same processes that HAVE ALWAYS produces inanity before-as we know that is the definition of insanity.


One thing about Florida
They did a TV report about the hurricane aftermath, noting that certain buildings built after a certain date had no damage. They were ruggedized against hurricanes. Older, glass exterior buildings were trashed. And will be trashed again, this year.

What can be done? Demolish and rebuild all old buildings? Well, while that should be done, it becomes "What is practical?"

And, it becomes a vicious cycle.

No surprise, considering it's the Bush administration
If you have government made up of people who believe, on ideological grounds, that government is corrupt and can't work, you'll get a government that's corrupt and doesn't work.

Apples and Papples.
One little comaprison problem I have.

New Zealand changed an office to update it and, as a result, ended up saving government spending. It wasn't a case of waste and abuse, or something that ended up not working (at least not yet).

FEMA was it's own agency, until after 9/11 when it became a part of the DHS. It seemed to work until Katrina. (There were several other hurricanes and natural disasters before Katrina, and you never thought of FEMA or knew who Michael Brown was until then.) Because of the nature and mission of the DHS, it seems to make sense, and continues to make sense to put FEMA under them. But... it now seems that you should have preserved FEMA's pre-9/11 administration. This year, you can see that it is being handled differently: They pre-positioned disaster relief supplies for Florida before the season's first hurricane. Like NO, it wasn't asked for. But this time, it was there anyway. So, at least we see that FEMA learned something.

Alternately, the GAO did it's job. But... we gave debit cards to the victims. If they bought a lap dance, then that's it. The money is now gone. You don't hear about the people that did the right thing. The cards are a good idea. We have to make them understand that "That's your payment for disaster relief. That's all you will get. If you waste it, it's gone." It's not just about Government fraud, waste and abuse. It's about the victim's F,W&A as well.

Oh, grow up.
"If you have government made up of people who believe, on ideological grounds, that government is corrupt and can't work," then that's all you will ever see. Instead of working to better the government or go and make suggestions where it matters (They don't here) you just work to undermine the government.

Selective Judgement
"If you have government made up of people who believe, on ideological grounds, that government is corrupt and can't work, you'll get a government that's corrupt and doesn't work."

As opposed to, say, every Democratic administration that was fully integrous and worked without a hitch (as evidenced by the Paradise on Earth they ushered in)?

No, as a matter of fact, it's not selective
Clinton gave a high priority to having a professional, non-politicized FEMA, and it worked well. Bush used FEMA as a dumping ground for political hacks, and see what happened. We aren't talking about "paradise on earth," we're talking professionalism and performance. Maybe those aren't important qualities for conservative government-haters.

Undermine the government???
Criticizing the Bush administration's/Grover Norquist's contemptuous attitude toward govenrment means I'm working to "underminine the government?" Gee. Better have someone swear out a warrant.

Oh No?
Let's see: Clinton = "professional, non-politicized FEMA," whereas Bush = "political hacks." Hmmm -- seems like quite the subjective assessment to me, unless you can empirically prove the co-called professionalism of Clinton's non-politicized FEMA (as well as the "politicized" status of GWB's). The term "hack" speaks for itself.

As for Clinton's FEMA working "well," since there was no hurricane wreaking havoc upon Louisiana during St. Bill's reign to directly compare his FEMA response to GWB's in that very region, I'll maintain that your assertions are, indeed, merely those of a biased nature. The disasters which befell Florida, etc. during the Clinton years are hardly apt comparatives to the Katrina she-bang; the inherent variables (i.e., local gov'ts involved, structural integrity, et al) aren't static.

It's a factual statement
When Clinton came into office, he appointed James Witt Lee, who had emergency experience in the Arkansas Office of Emergency Services, who promoted two lifer FEMA professionals, Lynn Canton and Michael Armstrong, to be his top assistants. As a result, the National Review -- that's the conservative National Review said this:

"Indeed, at a time when Washington seems more polarized than ever, most Democrats and Republicans have been able to agree on one thing: that the little-known Witt represents the very best of the Clinton Administration. He has made FEMA much more responsive to the public. He has worked to prevent disasters. He has cut a significant amount of bureaucratic red tape. And he has helped boost the public image of a once-troubled agency that was about to be placed under the governmental guillotine."

During the 2000 election, Bush praised Witt for his relations with state government.

OK, let's contrast. Bush apponted "heckuva job, Brownie" as FEMA chief, because Brown had been a roommate of one of his officials before a completely undistinguished careeer in a horsebreeding associatioon. Brown appointed as his top officials Patrick Rhode, a political advance man for the Bush campaign, and a Scott Morris, a p.r. man from the campaign.

You don't like the word "political hack?" look it up.

And, yes, Katrina was a disaster. That's what tests disaster organizations. The Bush administration's failed.

More from the Lemming
If you have government made up of people who believe, on ideological grounds, that government is corrupt and can't work, you'll get a government that's corrupt and doesn't work.

First of all the Bush administration is hardly comprised of die-hard libertarians or classical liberals. Second the "government", is largely comprised of career employees with a diversity of viewpoints-who are impeded from expressing those views in most ways you take for granted.

It is not (implicit assertion: baseless) ideology that drives a healthy suspiction of the means and motives of government but the lessons of history. When we're lucky we get idiotic nonsense like the war on poverty (just curious when are we withdrawing from that quagmire? Its been 40 years! admit defeat!)and when we unlucky we get Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, etc. Before you start ranting thats not us, let me remind you of the some great initiatives such as the WW2 internment camps.

We get real pewrvasive and serious corruption when ideologues believe government made up of people who believe, on ideological grounds that government can do no wrong, like when school nutrition expert Bill Clinton sells missile technology to the Chinese-who are kindly working with Pongyang now.

Non-points, front to back, to avoid holding Bush administration responsible for screwups
let's take them one at a time:

>First of all the Bush administration is hardly comprised of die-hard libertarians or classical liberals.

Maybe you recognize this quote: "In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem?" It's the same person who made this joke: ""The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help." Is this someone whose philosophy is different from that of the Bush administration?

>Second the "government", is largely comprised of career employees with a diversity of viewpoints-who are impeded from expressing those views in most ways you take for granted.

These career employees answer to political appointees, like "heckuva job, Browinie," who do set the style, you're right.

>It is not (implicit assertion: baseless) ideology that drives a healthy suspiction of the means and motives of government but the lessons of history

You mean like Grover Norquist: "“My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

>We get real pewrvasive and serious corruption when ideologues believe government made up of people who believe, on ideological grounds that government can do no wrong,

Excuse me, we aren't dealing with anyone saying government can do no wrong. We have a situation where a government - the Bush administration - totally blew it. The effort is to try to avoid responsibility by saying the problem is with government in general, not the Bush administration.

Oh Lawsy....
-"Bush appointed 'heckuva job, Brownie' as FEMA chief, BECAUSE BROWN HAD BEEN A ROOMMATE OF ONE OF HIS OFFICIALS...."

The follow-up sentence conspicuously missing from your claim starts with the words, "I know this because . . ."

-"....before a COMPLETELY UNDISTINGUISHED career in a horsebreeding association.'

Not sure how his reputed failure (or success) in horsebreeding has any bearing on his FEMA stint.

-"Brown appointed as his top officials Patrick Rhode, A POLITICAL ADVANCE MAN for the Bush campaign, and a Scott Morris, A PR MAN from the campaign."

Apparently their experience in those previous positions automatically excludes them from consideration for service in some other capacity, in your view.

-"You don't like the word 'political hack?' look it up."

I most certainly know what the PHRASE "political hack" means (and implies) -- it's why I commented on it as I did. No need to be condescending in presenting your argument.

-"Katrina was a disaster. That's what tests disaster organizations. The Bush administration's failed."

Please elucidate for me how, exactly, the Bush FEMA "failed" -- what it should have done, given the circumstances, instead. Not all disasters are comprised of the same adjunct elements -- hence the incomparable nature of the Clinton era disasters and the one confronted by GWB via Katrina's aftermath.

Seems like you'll excuse anything, as long as it's a Republican anything
Roommate connection: Brown was brought on in 2001 by Joseph Albaugh, Bush's original FEMA chief, who quit to work on the 2004 re-election campaign. After Albaugh quit, brown became chief.

>Not sure how his reputed failure (or success) in horsebreeding has any bearing on his FEMA stint.

Ok,you're hiring someone to be national head of disasters, and the guy you choose is the former roommate of a political crony who works on your campaigns without experience in disaster work who used to be a lawyer for a horsebreeding association. If you were running a company, would you make hires this way?

Again:
>>"Brown appointed as his top officials Patrick Rhode, A POLITICAL ADVANCE MAN for the Bush campaign, and a Scott Morris, A PR MAN from the campaign."

>Apparently their experience in those previous positions automatically excludes them from consideration for service in some other capacity, in your view.

Doesn't disqualify them, but it certainly doesn't indicate that the hiring was done on the basis of experience in the field.

>I most certainly know what the PHRASE "political hack" means (and implies) -- it's why I commented on it as I did. No need to be condescending in presenting your argument

Then how do you feel it is inaccurate in describing Mssrs Brown, Rhode and Morris?

>Please elucidate for me how, exactly, the Bush FEMA "failed" -- what it should have done, given the circumstances, instead.

This has been done in enormous detail by the bipartisan congressional committees investigating the disaster. Why not look those up. Start with this news report:

http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/02/13/katrina.congress/index.html

Alleluia from the High Church of Left Wing Statism.
If you think the governing philosphy of Reagan and Bush are remotely alike and there's no "effort" to avoid responsibility by saying the problem with the government is with the government in general not the Bush admin.

There are facts government almost always engenders inefficiency and/or ineffectiveness at the things it attempts. You care to defend the multi-administration poverty programs as an example of a winning effort? Six Hundred dollar crapper seats courtesy of the DOD?
How about the killer Space shuttle? How about Boy Clinton having legalistic arguments with himself instead of offing OBL.

But then again, your selective outrage is always revealing. We've known New Orleans was a target for DECADES.

The reality is clear-you believe in a fantasy, a government with red yellow and blue tights flying into bring truth justice and prosperity, if only "we have leadership" "the people come together", "the president speaks to the issue", yakk yakk, yakk

The rest of us realize you're a delusional ideologue wedded to the bankrupt religion of statism.







Again: the Katrina issue isn't "government" but the Bush administration
The subject was Katrina response, and the idea in the essay was that the problems in some weren't due to a specific government, the Bush administration, but to government in general.

That''s a cop out. And bringing forward other examples of government waste or screwup doesn't make it less of a cop-out. Sure, as a human institution, government is fallible and administrations screw up. The point is they should be held responsible, instead of excused on ideological grounds.

Liberal incompetence
I'm staggered by your comments, and not surprised you elect to leave your piece unsigned.

A major American city is knocked out and large portions of it destroyed, and the rescue effort is totally botched so that nearly a year later little has been done to restore it? And you don't think this fits the definition of a disaster?

Secondly, you would seem to have a blind spot regarding poor folks who normally travel by streetcar or bus. How exactly were they supposed to leave town, and where would their destination be? Most of those left behind had neither a car nor a home away from home, in the form of family out of the storm's path. Are these people just supposed to find a Holiday Inn and then run a tab?

No way was provided for them to evacuate in the short amount of time they were given. You have to blame this one on the city government.

I hear you loud and clear on "raids on the public treasury". But don't you think we should have some mechanism to protect citizens from large scale disasters? An attack by a foreign power, for instance? What exactly do you see as the purpose of having a government in the first place?

Do you think we should instead have subscription disaster relief companies, as they used to have subscription fire companies in the old days? And everyone should carry their cards so they can be rescued, while nonsubscribers have to stay behind? What should be the country's response to the certainty that there will be more disasters as time goes on? Everyone's on their own? Duck and cover?

I wonder also at your choice of the phrase "lack of unchecked liberal incompetence at every lack of government"-- which doesn't even make any sense. The mayor was certainly no liberal, if that's what you're getting at. He's a pro-business Republican who switched parties because Republicans don't win mayoral races in New Orleans. Catherine Blanco, a liberal? That doesn't pass the laugh test.

That would leave George W.

FEMA under James Lee Witt was experienced, competent and effective in its conversion of federal money into immediate disaster relief and followup services. Following his ouster the FEMA house was cleaned so thoroughly no one was left who had any idea what to do in the event of an emergency. So don't blame the idea of government. Just blame this particular government.

And as for who's a "delusiional ideologue"
It's not me that's avoiding the facts of the situation, instead spouting generalized anti-government slogans and straw men about "statism."

NOT Again: the Katrina issue isn't "government" but the Bush administration
Sure, as a human institution, government is fallible and administrations screw up. The point is they should be held responsible, instead of excused on ideological grounds.

Instead of acknowledging that the Federal government regularly "screws up", you tolerate the "screw ups" you like refuse to acknowledge the normalcy of "screw ups" and establish nebulous standards of perfection to pillory your political enemies.

Of course the biggest screw up is you. How many times you take your sleeping bag and hammer to volunteer in NO? No, you sit here on your fat behind in air-conditioned comfort expecting MIRACLES from other people to accomplish tasks there's CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORIZATION for.

I'm not excusing anybody. I recognize a battleship doesn't turn on a dime and don't expect it to.

Not government but a government. This isn't complicated
you're arguing with yourself.

>Instead of acknowledging that the Federal government regularly "screws up", you tolerate the "screw ups" you like refuse to acknowledge the normalcy of "screw ups" and establish nebulous standards of perfection to pillory your political enemies.

I have acknowledge that goverment screws up regularly. I do not tolerate screw-ups: the people responsible should be held responsible.

> establish nebulous standards of perfection to pillory your political enemies.

Saying that the people responsible should be held responsible is not "establishing a nebulous standard of perfection."

>Of course the biggest screw up is you. How many times you take your sleeping bag and hammer to volunteer in NO? No, you sit here on your fat behind in air-conditioned comfort expecting MIRACLES from other people to accomplish tasks there's CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORIZATION for.

This is drivel. I was paying taxes for an effective government to do this. The government failed. I wasn't expecting miracles. I was expecting competence. We hired people to do a job. They screwed up.

But look in the mirror with your sleeping bag. I'm the one who expects government to do the job I pay taxes to fund doing. You're the one who doesn't believe in government. Why didn't you foresee that government would break down and get on the first plane?

>I'm not excusing anybody. I recognize a battleship doesn't turn on a dime and don't expect it to.

You're not acknoowledging that the problem in the Katrina response was not "goverment" but a specifc government.

Deleting Obsolete Government Programs
I recall Jimmy Carter wanted to impose zero base budgeting on all federal agencies. ZBB of course is one good way to weed out dead or useless government programs, however resources to prepare ZBB can also be enormous.

Yes, well ---
I don't remember who said it, but the quote goes: "If you want to achieve immortality, become a government program."

Is it any wonder that so much money was pissed away? It's like giving money to panhandler who says he needs it for a meal or for bus fare. If you want to make sure he's not drinking or shooting/snorting your donation, buy him the meal or put him on the bus. Give irresponsible people money, and they will spend it irresponsibly.

Anyone who believes political programs are run effectively deserves what they get
Politicians who respond to political pressures utilizing the federal bureaucracy are the prime evidence of fraud, waste, mismanagement, and coruption. Anyone who advocates government spending has to be a federal employee since anyone with any experience of the process realizes there are few effective things the government does.

So who is to be surprised if over a billion dollars was wasted in strip bars or on jewelry? It was a government program administered and designed by the likes of Jefferson, McKinney, McCain, and Murtha,

Nicely said
I can't wait for the usual compassion mongers to tell us why billions must be spent on the poor and needy. As long as its your money and not theirs.

Delusional ideologue wedded to the bankrupt religion of statism?
Superheater aren't you understanding the case against Eric the lemming?

Bush and Republican have to spend big, otherwise they will look like they spend more on foreigners.
Face it, Bush and Republicans have backed themselves into a spending frenzy. They can not stop spending to prevent their opponents from calling them on liking folks in Afganistan and Iraq more then those paying taxes.

Furthermore, Bush and his cabal could not explain that with tax cuts must come spending cuts. The problem is that they kept on spending and spending and spending.

It pains me to see this administration spend this country into a period of high inflation.

I Understand
He's a big government fundamentalist. Very good at stammering and putting his fingers in his ears. The very type of simpleton that Orwell wrote about in "Animal Farm". "Four Legs good, two legs bad" is "Democrats good, Republicans bad". Nonetheless, its kind of fun to get him on a rip, as vacant as they are, if you want to understand dysfunction, reading his missives are sort of like a field trip to a mental hospital.



Actually I believe this to be Eric
As you noted the same relentless parroting of vacant phrases and meaningless talking points punctuated by the drivel one notes of mental patients. It is fun to see him chew carpets. It reminds me of Kerry.

Be nice to the leeming Eric
After all he worships at the altar of the gulags. One has to wonder how he explains he explains the democrat administrations of big cities. Especially the utopian paradise of New Orleans with its Prussian like effeciency.

roy's continued disconnect with reality
What botching there was, was done by the liberal mayor of NO and the liberal governor of LA.
As to the rebuilding, that is going on as we speak, but it probably shouldn't. Because of it's location, NO should be abandoned, not rebuilt.

Many poor people have access to transportation. Friends, relatives. If you live in an area that is likely to need evacuating in a hurry, not having a means of evacuation is a failure on your part, not societies.

Funny thing
When Florida and Texas were hit by hurricanes, FEMA received high marks for it's performance.
Even in NO, FEMA acheived all of it's design goals. FEMA was never designed to get onsite in less than 3 days. In NO, it took 2 1/2 days.

The failure's in this case were in the liberal, Democratic govts of NO, and LA.

deficits falling fast
The deficit has fallen by almost half in the last 2 years. As a percentage of GDP, it's falling even faster.

With a gov and mayor like these how much money will be diverted?
Into the pockets of their cronies? Whenever and where ever democrats gather the number one topic has to be how to skim off the cream of government funds. Over a billion from reflief funds misused. Who'd have thunk it?

The rebuilding of New Orleans
Mark, this one's bad even for you.

"What botching there was, was done by the liberal mayor of NO and the liberal governor of LA."

You mean FEMA had nothing to do with it? I wonder what all the microscopically documented fuss was about at the time. You more than have you're head stuck in the sand... you're lying.

Furthermore the way they've botched the recovery is still front page news-- all the billions they gave away just to anyone who felt like sticking his hand out. Such intellectual dishonesty is rare even here at TCS.

Yet furthermore, to call Catherine Blanco a liberal is ridiculous. She's a Louisiana politician, for chrissakes. Two vastly different things.

"As to the rebuilding, that is going on as we speak,"

If you say so. The old neighborhoods have been redlined, so there are no federal, state or private construction loans available. And anyone rebuilding with their own money can't get flood insurance. This is so a new New Orleans can be built by others, in place of the old New Orleans that's trying to return.

The botching of the local liberals has been well documented.
Though I'm not surprised that you have managed to avoid seeing it.
FEMA's charter says they are to get on sight in 3 days. They made it in 2 1/2. It is the job of local authorities to keep things together until then. In the rest of the country, the local authorities manage to do this. LA and NO, they can't.

As to the fuss, most of that has been disproven. There weren't hundreds of bodies at the dome, there were 3. For example.

I wonder what New Orleans evacuation program is now?
Mark:
Any bets there is no change? Its amazing that we keep hearing the same tired song and dance from the same moonbats. Anyone still defending the mayor and gov need serious help.

Denial time
Let's hear it for Roy's story time bringing us tales of all those southern conservatives like the mayor of New Orleans and Blanco that neocon. Lets hear how the billions that were given to New Orleans prior to the hurricane for the levee system were diverted to convention centers, casinos and other civic projects. Lets hear it for the tree huggers who stopped flood control programs in the 1970s that would have stopped these kind of floods.

No Roy tells us that these players weren't responsible, it was FEMA. Using Roy's rational I'd like to nominate the Red Cross for their failure to do anything about the flood. Ridiculous, certainly, but consistent with Roy's unbalanced state.

Bush and the republicans were bated into an absurd response to Katrina by the news outlets and the D
Bush and the republicans were bated into an absurd response to Katrina by the news outlets and the Democrats. Now news outlets and the Democrats can bash him for the absurd response. Brilliant! It seems stupid to many for the republicans to think that they can buy the votes of the left with billions in pork and aid but by looking at the republican controlled congress and presidency it seems to work. That is why classical liberals/ free market advocates should never vote for republicans they will stab you in the back every time because it works. Bush and Rove are not stupid just back stabbers.




All of the heads...
...Of such departments are political hacks.

Open your eyes. My father was fire chief in large easten city and he was bitter that the next job up was a political appointment so he could not move up. The pros under the political hacks them ignore the political hacks anyway.

Hey, Eric!
One thing Eric misses is that New Orleans was mostly a disaster because of the poorly designed and maintained levy system, not because of anything that FEMA did or did not do. Now, Eric, who was ruling that city and state in the past decades? Not George W. Bush!

-Bob

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