In Jim Cook's Archive


There’s been a lot of recent criticism of the government’s inability to fix New Orleans. Katrina victims are depicted on TV as abandoned by federal, state and local governments. In reality, the government has pumped $122 billion dollars into the disaster area. That’s five times more than any other previous disaster.

The Wall Street Journal reports, “The post-Katrina spend-fest will be remembered as one of the greatest taxpayer wastes in U.S. history. First came the FEMA $2,000 debit-card fiasco intended to pay for necessities that were used for things like flat-panel TVs and tattoos. Then came the purchase of thousands of mobile homes that cost as much as $400,000 per family housed; the $200 million for renting the Carnival Cruise Ship; millions more in payments that went for season football tickets, luxury vacation resorts, even divorce lawyers.” The Journal failed to mention the numerous swindlers who got multiple payments or the money that was wasted on everyday vices like gambling, drugs and alcohol.

Despite the outrageous examples of bureaucratic incompetence, American liberals still have boundless faith in government. Leaders of the left are calling for large public works projects in New Orleans. Despite the waste, corruption, negligence and failure, the left wants more government.

Nobody’s talking about the real issue that’s making it difficult, and even impossible, to put New Orleans back together again. A large percentage of the population has been dependent on government welfare payments and other subsidies for decades. Consequently, they have lost the ability to do anything for themselves. Over time government subsidies render the recipients helpless. They can no longer accomplish anything. Often this helplessness goes hand in hand with alcoholism or drug addiction. Subsidies also promote a breakdown in character and encourage bad behavior. The government’s greatest failure is the creation of a dead-end culture among the underclass. The response to the boredom that’s induced by free money is often the bizarre. Rich or poor, when you give people money they didn’t earn on a sustained basis, you do them the greatest disservice that can ever befall them. New Orleans is living proof.

James R. Cook is the author of a newsletter and several books.

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