Tuesday, September 4, 2007

First Libya, Now the Norks

Will George Bush get any credit from his domestic adversaries for this astonishing development?

GENEVA (AP) - North Korea agreed Sunday to account for and disable its atomic programs by the end of the year, offering its first timeline for a process long sought by nuclear negotiators, the chief U.S. envoy said.

Look for this story to sink with scarcely a trace into the abyssal deeps of political journalism. The media line is that Bush is the worst president in history, and anything which runs counter to that line is merely an anomaly to be ignored.

This worst president in history, however, has liberated more people from oppression and done more to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to terrorist states than has any other president we've ever had.

You would think that with his spending and his position on illegal immigration, such a man would be a hero to the left. So why isn't he?

Here are the main reasons: He opposes abortion on demand and government funding of stem cell research. He has instituted tax cuts which allow the rich to keep more of their money and which have caused the economy to thrive, and he believes that America should occasionally be willing to use force as a last resort to free people from tyranny. Plus he's a devout Christian and a Republican. Therefore the left despises him. Their hatred would be comical if it weren't so sad.


Katrina's Cost

Having recently marked the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina some in the media have been pointing to the mess that still remains and even blaming the Bush administration for not doing more to get people back into their homes in places like New Orleans.

Rep. Tom Tancredo (Colo.) has a different view. He recently noted that it's "time the taxpayer gravy train left the New Orleans station" and urged an end to the federal aid to the region. "The amount of money that has been wasted on these so-called 'recovery' efforts has been mind-boggling," said Tancredo, "Enough is enough."

There's more:

Citing administration figures, the lawmaker said that $114 billion has been spent on the effort to rebuild a large stretch of the Gulf Coast after the storm hit New Orleans in August 2005 and claimed more than 1,600 lives.

"At some point, state and local officials and individuals have got to step up to the plate and take some initiative," said Tancredo. "The mentality that people can wait around indefinitely for the federal taxpayer to solve all their worldly problems has got to come to an end."

The lawmaker criticized in particular the amount that has been wasted through fraud and abuse, estimated at $1 billion.

"This whole fiasco has been a perfect storm of corruption and incompetence at all levels," he added.

It's worth noting that Mississippi, which was just as hard hit as Louisianna, seems not to be nearly as far behind the recovery curve as is its neighbor. I wonder how much that has to do with the political leadership in the respective states and the level of corruption in Louisianna.

Larry Kudlow adds to the picture:

Here's a pop quiz: How much money has Uncle Sam spent on New Orleans and the Gulf region since Hurricane Katrina ripped the place apart? I'll give you the answer because you'll never guess it. The grand total is $127 billion (including tax relief, which Tancredo's numbers apparently omitted).

That's right: a monstrous $127 billion. Of course, not a single media story has highlighted this gargantuan government-spending figure. But that number came straight from the White House in a fact sheet subtitled, "The Federal Government Is Fulfilling Its Commitment to Help the People of the Gulf Coast Rebuild."

This is an outrage. The entire GDP of the state of Louisiana is only $141 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. So the cash spent there nearly matches the entire state gross GDP. That's simply unbelievable. And to make matters worse, by all accounts New Orleans ain't even fixed!

You might be asking, Where did all this money go? Well, the White House fact sheet says $24 billion has been used to build houses and schools, repair damaged infrastructure, and provide victims with a place to live. But isn't everyone complaining about the lack of housing?

Perhaps all this money should've been directly deposited in the bank accounts of the 300,000 people living in New Orleans. All divvied up, that $127 billion would come to $425,000 per person! After thanking Uncle Sam for their sudden windfall, residents could head to Southern California and buy homes that are now on sale thanks to the sub-prime mortgage crisis and bid up the sagging house prices in the state.

The fact sheet goes on to say that $7.1 billion went to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rebuild the levees; that the U.S. Department of Education spent $2 billion on local schools; and that the Laura Bush Foundation for America's Libraries has awarded more than $2.5 million (the pikers). The administration also provided $16.7 billion as part of the largest housing-recovery program in U.S. history.

So the billion-dollar question becomes: Where did the rest of that money go?

Meanwhile, ... New Orleans has earned the distinct honor of becoming the murder capital of the world. The murder rate is 40 percent higher than before Katrina, and twice as high as other dangerous cities like Detroit, Newark, and Washington, D.C.

Think of this: The idea of using federal money to rebuild cities is the quintessential liberal vision. And given the dreadful results in New Orleans, we can say that the government's $127 billion check represents the quintessential failure of that liberal vision. Hillary Clinton calls this sort of reckless spending "government investment." And that's just what's in store for America if she wins the White House next year.

Right from the start, New Orleans should have been turned into a tax-free enterprise zone. No income taxes, no corporate taxes, no capital-gains taxes. The only tax would have been a sales tax paid on direct transactions. A tax-free New Orleans would have attracted tens of billions of dollars in business and real-estate investment. This in turn would have helped rebuild the cities, schools, and hospitals. Private-sector entrepreneurs would have succeeded where big-government bureaucrats and regulators have so abysmally failed.

For our part we're wondering why we're rebuilding New Orleans at all. If global warming projections are correct sea levels will continue to rise over the next hundred years and New Orleans will be harder to protect against flooding than ever before. How many times will that city be rebuilt before we decide to concede southern Louisianna to Mother Nature and stop throwing money at it.


Essay Contest

Any students out there interested in competing in an essay contest on Allan Bloom's Closing of the American Mind can find details here.