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Why Reform Lost in NOLA

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Recall the following from Robert Tracinski's spot-on analysis of the man-made disaster Hurricane Katrina uncovered in New Orleans last year.

What Hurricane Katrina exposed was the psychological consequences of the welfare state. What we consider "normal" behavior in an emergency is behavior that is normal for people who have values and take the responsibility to pursue and protect them. People with values respond to a disaster by fighting against it and doing whatever it takes to overcome the difficulties they face. They don't sit around and complain that the government hasn't taken care of them. And they don't use the chaos of a disaster as an opportunity to prey on their fellow men.



But what about criminals and welfare parasites

? Do they worry about saving their houses and property? They don't, because they don't own anything.

Do they worry

about what is going to happen to their businesses or how they are going to make a living? They never worried about those things before. Do they worry about crime and looting?

But living off of stolen wealth is a way of life for them

. [bold added]

The story goes on, and, sad to say, in the same vein. Nicole Gelinas of City Journal the following reason why New Orleans failed to elect a mayor who would spearhead a much-needed reform of its criminal justice system.

The

New York Times

unwittingly summed up the attitude of the candidates and of New Orleanians in general in its election wrap-up: "Mostly unspoken was the larger reality: that the federal money destined for the city, as much as $10 billion that would perhaps arrive by late summer, would have far more influence on its recovery than the actions of any mayor," the paper noted Sunday.

Gelinas, whose reporting on Katrina has been superb overall, then misses making a profound point, saying, "New Orleans needs that federal money of course." Yeah. Like I need another hole in my head.

With the unprecedented, humongous federal bailout of New Orleans in the offing, the federal government is going to do to all of New Orleans what it previously did only for a significant portion of its poor: It is going to debilitate the city even further by insulating it from the consequences of its past mistakes and future actions!

This is already happening now. The criminals who have been giving Houston such headaches are beginning to return, tired of being arrested and actually doing time for their misdeeds.

When one is protected from the consequences of his own stupidity, one fails to learn from said stupidity. New Orleans was effectively told by the feds that it need not learn from past mistakes in order to survive. And so it isn't learning.

All living things -- and it is useful to think of New Orleans as a living thing here -- are confronted with life or death at all times, and must do certain things to achieve the former and avoid the latter. Just as an overindulgent parent fails at child-rearing by cheating a child out of the opportunities to learn that his inevitable mistakes represent, so is our federal government failing New Orleans.

There is no way to prevent another major hurricane from hitting New Orleans again -- but why should it worry about at least blunting the effects of such an event with better storm protection or if Uncle Sam will cover for it? And there is no way to prevent all crime -- but why should New Orleans prevent barbaric behavior from compounding the tragedy of a storm when the feds will ship its criminals out wholesale, and release them on other unfortunates without warning them first? The feds have done all of these things in the past and have just promised to do them again.

Our great federal bailout of New Orleans, far from bringing it back, is a hindrance to any meaningful recovery in the same way decades of welfare made its poorest citizens even more destitute rather than raising them from poverty. The government cannot live a citizen's -- or a city's -- life for it. It can feed and sustain it physically to some degree, but in the process, it will destroy its soul -- and in this sense, the government takes its life.

-- CAV






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