NOLA’s New Life
Energetic optimists like Bobby Jindal may speed its recovery.


Deroy Murdock

Jindal scrapped a business-utilities tax and accelerated the repeal of manufacturing-equipment and business-debt levies. A seemingly sympathetic legislature is weighing a 10-year phase out of state income taxes. While some fret that revenues will winnow, Jindal says he would approve such radical tax relief, if lawmakers identify matching spending reductions. “My only requirement is that it be fiscally responsible,” Jindal declared. Supply-side growth and resulting revenues, of course, could replenish state coffers. Offshore-oil royalties also are gushing in, further easing tax cuts.

Meanwhile, Jindal advocates a $10 million experiment involving 1,500 school vouchers. Charter schools are blossoming like magnolias. With the government system shattered after Katrina, private and experimental schools like Sojourner Truth Academy, Akili Academy, and Lafayette Academy advertise for applicants on city buses and on small signs planted in the tree-lined “neutral grounds” (as locals call them) that divide large streets. Some fledgling schools accept donations.

New Orleans and Louisiana also will benefit from the Pelican Institute, a brand-new, free-market think tank. From offices 29 stories above Poydras and Tchoupitoulas Streets, Pelican’s president, Kevin Kane, watches freighters lug goods up and down the Mississippi River, while gamblers carry their fortunes in and out of nearby Harrah’s Casino.

“I’d like for us to become the primary generator and communicator of good policy ideas in Louisiana,” says the recovering attorney. “Not long ago, people gave up on New York City, but good policy fueled rapid improvements. The Manhattan Institute helped lead that process, and we’d like to have similar impact here in New Orleans and Louisiana.”

After graduating Tulane University and Loyola Law School, Kane and his wife spent five years here before moving to New York City. After four years, they returned with their two kids in March.

“I was willing to relocate my family here on short notice because we recognized that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help revive a great city and state,” Kane says. “And despite its problems, New Orleans is a wonderful place to live.”

Let’s hope energetic optimists like Kevin Kane — natives and transplants alike — rejuvenate this ever-eccentric, incessantly entertaining, thoroughly enchanting metropolis.

© 2008 Scripps Howard News Service

– NRO contributing editor Deroy Murdock is a columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution.


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