FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Easy Money in the Big Easy

 

The real idiocy of conservative free-market theory is being put on display in New Orleans.

At last count, the administration and the Republican Congress have pledged to throw $200 billion into New Orleans to “rebuild” the city. The money will allegedly go to all sorts of private enterprise projects designed to rebuild infrastructure, rebuild schools and hospitals, repair sewer systems, etc.

Meanwhile, however, several hundred thousand poor New Orleans residents who were flooded out of their city and who lost everything, are scattered across the whole country, where they now live on handouts, or welfare if they can get it. Most have little prospect of finding work.

In New Orleans itself, the city, desperate for workers to restore services, is laying off 3000 workers because, with no tax base, it is de facto bankrupt.

Now it should be obvious to anyone with a lick of sense that the logical thing for the federal government to do right now is to get those people who lost their jobs and their homes in New Orleans back into the city and at work restoring their storied metropolis to life. It should be equally obvious that you can’t rebuild a city that is bankrupt and laying off its workforce, so clearly there should be a subsidy to the local government in lieu of lost property taxes, which could cover the rehiring of city workers.

The amount of money it would take to do all this would be far, far less than the $200 billion Bush and Congress are talking about spending, but it would do much more than all their money will. Consider this: Hiring 100,000 people full-time for a year at $10/hour would cost $2 billion dollars–just one percent of Bush’s princely promise. Hire them for the next five years, and you’ve still only spent $10 billion. Hiring back 3000 city workers, even at $50,000 a year per worker, would be $150 million, or $750 million over the next five years. Even if you throw in the cost of the materials that will be needed to clean and /or rebuild the housing in the city, we’re still talking single-digit billions of dollars. This is all chump change to a federal government that is spending at least $5 billion a month on the war in Iraq and that is talking about spending $200 billion on New Orleans.

Meanwhile, with a federal project based upon hiring the displaced citizens of New Orleans, we’d be eliminating all the welfare payouts to the evacuees, as well as a good deal of the Medicaid payments that the federal government will end up repaying the states for.

What New Orleans really needs, in other words, is a kind of combination TVA/Citizens Conservation Corps-type program-a federal project to build Dutch-style levees that will withstand a Category 5 hurricane, to rebuild the whole city for everyone who wants to return, and to do it the the maximum extend possible with local labor.

This is all so obvious it shouldn’t even need saying. And yet

It’s not what’s happening, and nobody, including the brain-dead and soulless Democrats, is calling for it.

For the Republicans in power, ideology trumps logic. The last thing they want to see is government doing something successfully.

Much better to let the evacuees stagnate and suffer and become a burden on already strapped host communities across the nation, while pumping ungodly sums of money into the coffers of well-connected companies like Halliburton, Flour, Bechtel, etc., which will pretend to be rebuilding New Orleans.

For the Democrats too, big federal projects that involve actually giving needed jobs to people are anathema. Too much like the old New Deal for modern tastes.

In the end, the losers will be the American taxpayer, who will have subsidized one of the greatest public heists of all time, and the people of New Orleans, who for the most part will no longer be able to return to, or perhaps even recognize their city when Bush, Congress and their corporate cronies get through with the place.

DAVE LINDORFF is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His new book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Information about both books and other work by Lindorff can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CLARIFICATION

ALEXANDER COCKBURN, JEFFREY ST CLAIR, BECKY GRANT AND THE INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF JOURNALISTIC CLARITY, COUNTERPUNCH

We published an article entitled “A Saudiless Arabia” by Wayne Madsen dated October 22, 2002 (the “Article”), on the website of the Institute for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity, CounterPunch, www.counterpunch.org (the “Website”).

Although it was not our intention, counsel for Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi has advised us the Article suggests, or could be read as suggesting, that Mr Al Amoudi has funded, supported, or is in some way associated with, the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

We do not have any evidence connecting Mr Al Amoudi with terrorism.

As a result of an exchange of communications with Mr Al Amoudi’s lawyers, we have removed the Article from the Website.

We are pleased to clarify the position.

August 17, 2005

 

More articles by:

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

Weekend Edition
September 21, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Laquan McDonald is Being Tried for His Own Racist Murder
Brad Evans
What Does It Mean to Celebrate International Peace Day?
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Hurricane Florence and 9.7 Million Pigs
Nick Pemberton
With or Without Kavanaugh, The United States Is Anti-Choice
Andrew Levine
Israel’s Anti-Semitism Smear Campaign
Jim Kavanagh
“Taxpayer Money” Threatens Medicare-for-All (And Every Other Social Program)
Jonathan Cook
Palestine: The Testbed for Trump’s Plan to Tear up the Rules-Based International Order
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Chickenhawks Have Finally Come Back Home to Roost!
David Rosen
As the Capitalist World Turns: From Empire to Imperialism to Globalization?
Jonah Raskin
Green Capitalism Rears Its Head at Global Climate Action Summit
James Munson
On Climate, the Centrists are the Deplorables
Robert Hunziker
Is Paris 2015 Already Underwater?
Arshad Khan
Will Their Ever be Justice for Rohingya Muslims?
Jill Richardson
Why Women Don’t Report Sexual Assault
Dave Clennon
A Victory for Historical Accuracy and the Peace Movement: Not One Emmy for Ken Burns and “The Vietnam War”
W. T. Whitney
US Harasses Cuba Amid Mysterious Circumstances
Nathan Kalman-Lamb
Things That Make Sports Fans Uncomfortable
George Capaccio
Iran: “Snapping Back” Sanctions and the Threat of War
Kenneth Surin
Brexit is Coming, But Which Will It Be?
Louis Proyect
Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9”: Entertaining Film, Crappy Politics
Ramzy Baroud
Why Israel Demolishes: Khan Al-Ahmar as Representation of Greater Genocide
Ben Dangl
The Zapatistas’ Dignified Rage: Revolutionary Theories and Anticapitalist Dreams of Subcommandante Marcos
Ron Jacobs
Faith, Madness, or Death
Bill Glahn
Crime Comes Knocking
Terry Heaton
Pat Robertson’s Hurricane “Miracle”
Dave Lindorff
In Montgomery County PA, It’s Often a Jury of White People
Louis Yako
From Citizens to Customers: the Corporate Customer Service Culture in America 
William Boardman
The Shame of Dianne Feinstein, the Courage of Christine Blasey Ford 
Ernie Niemi
Logging and Climate Change: Oregon is Appalachia and Timber is Our Coal
Jessicah Pierre
Nike Says “Believe in Something,” But Can It Sacrifice Something, Too?
Paul Fitzgerald - Elizabeth Gould
Weaponized Dreams? The Curious Case of Robert Moss
Olivia Alperstein
An Environmental 9/11: the EPA’s Gutting of Methane Regulations
Ted Rall
Why Christine Ford vs. Brett Kavanaugh is a Train Wreck You Can’t Look Away From
Lauren Regan
The Day the Valves Turned: Defending the Pipeline Protesters
Ralph Nader
Questions, Questions Where are the Answers?
Binoy Kampmark
Deplatforming Germaine Greer
Raouf Halaby
It Should Not Be A He Said She Said Verdict
Robert Koehler
The Accusation That Wouldn’t Go Away
Jim Hightower
Amazon is Making Workers Tweet About How Great It is to Work There
Robby Sherwin
Rabbi, Rabbi, Where For Art Thou Rabbi?
Vern Loomis
Has Something Evil This Way Come?
Steve Baggarly
Disarm Trident Walk Ends in Georgia
Graham Peebles
Priorities of the Time: Peace
Michael Doliner
The Department of Demonization
David Yearsley
Bollocks to Brexit: the Plumber Sings
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail