The Corner

Subject: The Flavor of The Day For The Kooks

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Rich, it would appear that you and others have successfully shown the flood issues in New Orleans are not a lack of funding in Washington. Therefore, the left is moving on to other broader themes about how market capitalism (echoed loudly by the left in Europe) is a failure and New Orleans is a perfect embodiment of this failure. This type of reasoning is the sort of thing that makes one spit up coffee in the morning. Steve Pearlstein’s Friday WPost piece is a good illustration:”Some Republicans and their think-tank allies have the perfect formula for reviving the economy of the devastated Gulf region: low wages, low taxes, relaxed environmental laws, no-bid contracts, a tough criminal code, lavish spending on public works, limited spending on welfare and public education, no minority set-asides and preference for faith-based organizations.

Come to think of it, that sounds suspiciously like Louisiana and Mississippi before Katrina, when they boasted some of the highest poverty rates and lowest household incomes in the nation.”

The framework of the city of New Orleans is about as far as one can get from conservative and GOP policies. In Louisiana, New Orleans has the highest property tax rates (by far), the highest per capita spending on public education (more than double almost every other parish in the state), the only car tax in the state, a one time real estate transaction tax, the highest sales taxes in the state (and the nation for that matter), the most lenient criminal justice system, corrupt minority set-asides in most contracting, and the list goes on and on. I cannot speak for Mississippi or Alabama, but within the state of Louisiana, New Orleans most closely resembles the core policies of the liberal left vision of government. The city is a perfect illustration of how a generous LBJ-style public sector consigns thousands of people to multi-generational poverty. This poverty is far more entrenched that the poverty of the Jim Crow era and we saw it play out in front of the cameras during coverage of Hurricane Katrina.

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. 

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