Friday, September 30, 2005


I have a feeling that the almighty crude-fuel is going to be the dominant issue of the coming months. Prepare to see proposals for price and allocation controls, windfall profit taxes on the oil and gas biz, tax abatements for the favored, and asinine charges of "gouging" from the political busy-bodies and demagogues in DC. My esteemed and economically dense governor here in GA has already chimed in on the issue to my own detriment. Tom Tanton at The Commons extols some of the virtuous effects of free market (high) prices and the market's magical ability to efficiently allocate scarce resources:

1) discourages tank topping, thus creating more effective supply; it discourages hoarding.

2) empowers consumers with optionality--the ability, the choice, of buying gasoline;

3) reduces gasoline lines, which waste fuel, wastes critical time during evacuation, and create unnecessary emissions (it is ozone season during hurricane season);

4) encourages conservation, where consumers see the real scarcity price and act accordingly (carpooling, etc.)

5) provides the correct market signal to refiners and other industry parties to eke out more supply in the short term and, longer term, increase total capacity.

Interesting Question

... from Mike Rappaport:
How ironic that William Rehnquist's successor was confirmed by the Senate 78-22. Rehnquist is sometimes reported to have said that if his opinion got more than 5 votes overall, than he had made a mistake. That he got six or more votes for an opinion suggested he could have written the opinion to reach a better result and still have gotten a majority. Did George Bush make a mistake and appoint someone who was more moderate than he needed to?
With my current opinion of GW, being what it is, I will just keep quiet.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Battered Citizen Syndrome

Please stop acting surprised. You piss and huff over the government's "inadequate" response in the Gulf region and insist that the feds jump in, take charge, and spend, spend, spend -- but, now you object to the actual implementation. What did you expect?? The NY Times is reporting:

More than 80 percent of the $1.5 billion in contracts signed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency alone were awarded without bidding or with limited competition, government records show, provoking concerns among auditors and government officials about the potential for favoritism or abuse...

...Some industry and government officials questioned the costs of the debris-removal contracts, saying the Army Corps of Engineers had allowed a rate that was too high. And Congressional investigators are looking into the $568 million awarded to AshBritt, a Pompano Beach, Fla., company that was a client of the former lobbying firm of Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi...

...The contracts also show considerable price disparities: travel trailers costing $15,000 to $23,000, housing inspection services that documents suggest could cost $15 to $81 per home, and ferries and ships being used for temporary housing that cost $13 million to $70 million for six months...

...Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, complained that FEMA and other federal agencies were delivering too much of the work to giant corporations with political connections, instead of local companies or minority-owned businesses...

"...There is just more of the good-old-boy system, taking care of its political allies," Mr. Thompson said. "FEMA and the others have put out these contracts in such a haphazard manner, I don't know how they can come up with anything that is accountable to the taxpayers."

So, the administration is granting contracts to their buddies and the contractors are inflating their fees? Well, noooooooo kidding. Is this really news? Do you actually expect FEMA and the feds to emulate the private entities that you deem wholly "incapable" of properly handling situations of this magnitude? Forgive me for gloating, but you get what you ask for. Unfortunately, government exists in an accountability-vacuum, immune from oversight, the bottom line, and the invisible hand of the market that mandates innovation, performance and efficiency. These miracle-workers you so eagerly seek are just power hungry, favor doling bureaucrats, who excel at little more than throwing other people's money around like Henry Hill in Goodfellas. Take a long look - do yourself a favor and cleanse thy soul.
It occurs to me that statists are alot like a chronically battered woman who naively insists that she will stand by her scum of man because, "oh - one day he will change - he can be so good - he just needs the right guidance, perhaps some counseling..." It's called denial. Face it. Some things will never change, such as human nature and the slightly anti-social quirks of a Raider fan. A is A - government is what it is, and irregardless of your hopes, dreams, and misguided campaign finance laws, the same kinds of people will always seek political power. So, I will ask once more, "why do we want to give them power???"
And just to close on an up note, there's this:
As of last week, the federal government was spending more than $263 million a day on the recovery effort.
Update: 5:40 pm 9-29-05: Anne Applebaum writes in WaPo that the primary vehicle of legislative corruption today is in the form of "infrastructure appropriations":

Exhibit A is the Louisiana congressional delegation's new request for $250 billion in hurricane reconstruction funds. As a Post editorial pointed out yesterday, this money -- more than $50,000 per Louisiana resident -- would come on top of the $62.3 billion Congress has already appropriated, on top of the charitable donations, on top of the insurance payouts. Among other things, the proposal demands $40 billion of new Army Corps of Engineers spending, 16 times more than the Corps says it needs to protect New Orleans from a Category 5 hurricane. Despite the fact that previous Corps projects drained Louisiana's coastal wetlands, thereby destroying what could have been a natural buffer against at least some of the Rita and Katrina storm surges, the proposal calls for a suspension of environmental reviews. Despite the fact that Louisiana spent hundreds of millions of dollars on water projects that turned out to be unnecessary, or even damaging, the proposal makes it possible to suspend cost-benefit analyses.

In its scale and sheer disregard for common sense, the Louisiana proposal breaks new ground. But I don't want to single out Louisiana: After all, the state's representatives are acting logically, even if they aren't spending logically. They are playing by the rules of the only system for distributing federal funds that there is, and that system allocates money not according to the dictates of logic, but to the demands of politics and patronage.

Nor does this logic apply only to obvious boondoggles such as federal transportation spending, the last $286 billion tranche of which funded Virginia horse trails, Vermont snowmobile trails, a couple of "bridges to nowhere" in rural Alaska and decorative trees for a California freeway named after Ronald Reagan (a president who once vetoed a transportation bill because it contained too much pork). On the contrary, this logic applies even to things we supposedly consider important, such as homeland security. Because neither the administration nor Congress is prepared to do an honest risk assessment, and because no one dares say that there are states at almost no risk of terrorist attack, a good chunk of homeland security funding is distributed according to formulas that give minimum amounts to every state. The inevitable result: In 2004 the residents of Wyoming received, per capita, seven times more money for first responders than the residents of New York City.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The O'Reilly Quacker

Bill O'Reilly is truly a strange little man. Take a gander at the below exchange between Mr. Sensational and an attorney from the ACLU. They were discussing a law in New York city which forbids any childless-adult to sit on a park bench if that bench is within certain proximity of a playground.
O'Reilly: Explain yourself.
ACLU Guy: This law is silly.
O'Reilly: Do you know that it is intended to protect children from pedophiles?
ACLU Guy: So? It's still a dumb law. And the punishment is excessive.
O'Reilly: Why would you make it easier for pedophiles to find children to satisfy their sick, sadistic urges?
ACLU Guy: I wouldn't. I just think this law is ill---
O'Reilly: Where in the Constitution does it say you have the right to sit on a park bench?
ACLU Guy: Well it doesn't explicitly....
O'Reilly: Quote it for me, Mr. Civil Libertarian. Give me the Article and Section. Give me the Amendment. Read it back to me.
ACLU Guy: The Constitution doesn't have to lay out all of your rights in order for them to be....
O'Reilly: So it isn't in there, is it?
ACLU Guy: Well no, not explicitly. But as I was saying, it doesn't need....
O'Reilly: I think I've proven my point. You know who'd love for this law to be repealed? NAMBLA. That's the North American Man-Boy Love Association. Man-boy love. Men on boys. Men loving boys. Or, as you might put it, defending their "right" to love boys. You've probably heard of them. Your organization has defended them. Do you want NAMBLA members hanging out on our playgrounds, scoping out grade school kids to have sex with? Do you want to help NAMBLA? NAMBLA, NAMBLA, NAMBLA! I'll give you the last word. NAMBLA.
ACLU Guy: I think people should be able to sit on public benches when they're tired, regardless of whether or not they have children. Also, many pedophiles have children themselves. This law would do nothing to stop them. There's also probably an equal protection problem, here.
O'Reilly: I don't know much about your fancy lawyering words, sir. But I do know that our children need protection from pedophiles, sickos, and perverts. And NAMBLA. And you, sir, have put yourself on the wrong side. NAMBLA. Also, NAMBLA.
ACLU Guy: I haven't put myself on any....
O'Reilly: NAMBLA. Banana-nana-fo-FAMBLA.
ACLU Guy: I thought I was going to get the last word?
O'Reilly: NAMBLA.
Hero of the Right? Heh. Two words -- "Male Oprah." Tip to The Agitator. Story here.

14 in a Row!

Here's a big wup, wup to my Braves. 14 consecutive division titles. Such a feat is unparalleled. The key to this success is Bobby Cox. Say what you will about the lack of World Series championships, Bobby continues to win year in and year out with an ever-changing lineup. We rule!

Monday, September 26, 2005

The Leviathan's Trap

It works something like this. The statists create an organized system of plunder, fed by the seizure of tax dollars, which is designed to distribute goods and services to those in "need," "protect" and subsidize favored interests, and regulate, direct and control private behavior, all in the name of the "public interest." Over time, as the system consumes all areas of political and private life, even the most staunch opponents to the expansive system acquiesce, grow to accept the state's all-consuming existence and even cheer on its dastardly deeds (at least when the fruits of plunder come their way). It is at this point that the likelihood of a return to the more limited system of the past is forever lost. And, in case you have not noticed, we are here (and probably have been for quite some time). We live among a populous composed of dependents (those who live off of the spoils of redistribution, welfare and favors) who will always support the system for their livelihood and embittered entitlees (those who feel they deserve a return in exchange for years of taxes paid into this system) who begrudgingly support it when self-interest dictates. So, who is left to fight? Unfortunately for those of us who love liberty and despise the system that is the United States government, we are grossly outnumbered by the parasites and rainy-day entitlees. Oh well, Costa Rica is nice.


My apologies to you loyal bokononist readers for the week-long hiatus. I had to get my surfing fix and if you will indulge me for a few -- Costa Rica Rules! Well, the Nicoya Peninsula to be exact with carefully devoted attention to Tamarindo, Avellanes, Play Negra and Playa Grande. Great waves, warm water, cheap food and kind people. Muy Buena!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Federal Bailout

So the Feds are planning to throw $300 billion plus at the Gulf....., wonderful. I know, I know, this is what governments do. But I don't have to feel good about it. In fact, at the risk of sounding whiney, the whole idea makes me feel ill. If all of this money was directed towards rebuilding the public infrastructure (the levees, etc.) then I might feel less reservation, but most of this dough will be spent (and much of it wasted) on individual/private recovery and repair projects. I look at it like this - you know when you are sitting in a long line of traffic, patiently waiting your turn to exit the expressway, and all the while cars continually zoom past you on the left with the audacious intention of cutting over at the last minute. These are the people that I'd like to see thrown under the jail along with rapists and the telemarketers who call before 9am on Saturdays. Sure, we'd all like to zip directly to the front of the line, but by and large, most drivers are courteous enough to abide by the established norms that dictate good-driver behavior. Yes, here in civilization, among the socially-conscious, we live our lives according to certain established, yet unspoken, norms of behavior that transcend de jure law and your grandmother's book of manners - you don't eat with you mouth open, you don't call shotgun until you see the car in question, and, for god's sake, you wait in line like everybody else. So, back to the Gulf state inhabitants that will soon be the beneficiaries of GW's tax-payer (debt) financed handouts. Many (not all) of these people did not have insurance and will, in essence, be rewarded for their irresponsibility. They are, simply stated, line-cutters on a grand scale. I don't like flushing x dollars/year down the State Farm toilet to protect my home from a hypothetical catastrophic event, but that is what responsible homeowners do. And should I choose not to do so, I will reap the consequences. End of story. This federal bailout sets an astronomically dangerous precedent and encourages irresponsible behavior that will inevitably just lead to more line-cutting. Great.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Conservative Devotion to the Pledge of Allegiance

Is the uproar over this case a defense of tradition for the mere sake of tradition, or do conservatives really favor submission to the state? Personally, I tend to find it a bit creepy that government schools require children to pledge their allegiance to that same government each morning. For a brief history of the Pledge, see Gene Healy's narrative below:

From its inception, in 1892, the Pledge has been a slavish ritual of devotion to the state, wholly inappropriate for a free people. It was written by Francis Bellamy, a Christian Socialist pushed out of his post as a Baptist minister for delivering pulpit-pounding sermons on such topics as "Jesus the Socialist." Bellamy was devoted to the ideas of his more-famous cousin Edward Bellamy, author of the 1888 utopian novel Looking Backward. Looking Backward describes the future United States as a regimented worker's paradise where everyone has equal incomes, and men are drafted into the country's "industrial army" at the age of 21, serving in the jobs assigned them by the state. Bellamy's novel was extremely popular, selling more copies than other any 19th century American novel except Uncle Tom's Cabin. Bellamy's book inspired a movement of "Nationalist Clubs," whose members campaigned for a government takeover of the economy. A few years before he wrote the Pledge of Allegiance, Francis Bellamy became a founding member of Boston's first Nationalist Club.

After leaving the pulpit, Francis Bellamy decided to advance his authoritarian ideas through the public schools. Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance for Youth's Companion, a popular children's magazine. With the aid of the National Education Association, Bellamy and the editors of Youth's Companion got the Pledge adopted as part of the National Public School Celebration on Columbus Day 1892.

Bellamy's recommended ritual for honoring the flag had students all but goosestepping their way through the Pledge: "At a signal from the Principal the pupils, in ordered ranks, hands to the side, face the Flag. Another signal is given; every pupil gives the Flag the military salute--right hand lifted, palm downward, to a line with the forehead and close to it... At the words, 'to my Flag,' the right hand is extended gracefully, palm upward, towards the Flag, and remains in this gesture till the end of the affirmation; whereupon all hands immediately drop to the side." After the rise of Nazism, this form of salute was thought to be in poor taste, to say the least, and replaced with today's hand-on-heart gesture.

Hmmm. Something to think about.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Effects of Katrina

Perhaps it's just my predictable anarcho-libertarian reflexes, but, for the life of me, I can not understand the now apparently chic calls for more government in the wake of Katrina. Are the Fareed Zacharia's and Barak Obama's of the world really serious?? Well, I know where the disintguished Senator from the state of Illinois is coming from, but it's the voice of those like Fareed that are a real cause for concern. Please, someone explain to me why Katrina and the subsequent abominable blunders of the local, state and federal governments should serve as a platform for abandoning limited government in favor of a "more robust and active federal government" ---- &%$!?@! -- excuse me, I was choking on a bone of disbelief. In one sense, I suppose this should be expected. Afterall, the state has always used the occasion of "emergencies" and "times of crises" to expand its reach, power, and intrusiveness - with the full support of a cheering citizenry to boot. Remember the Civil War, the New Deal, 9-11...? But Katrina is vastly different from the aforementioned occurrences in that the hurricane and the events that followed highlighted the sheer ineptness and miserable failures of an already "robust" and over-"active" government. Today, there is no void to be filled by growth - indeed, we live amidst an unparalleled super-state as it is. That being said, I cannot begin to understand why so many people refuse to accept that the model is broken. It was doomed from the get go and like all the pet-projects that the government supports and subsidizes, it has been propped up and artificially sustained through monopolistic coercion for far too long. Anyway, for my money, Colby Cosh's summary of events paints a perfect picture of the government, as seen through the lens of Katrina:

So let's just recap briefly, shall we? We've got a million or so human beings living in a low-lying area created in the first place by government engineers. The local government of New Orleans, apprised of an approaching storm, summarily orders everybody out of the city about 36 hours too late without lifting a finger to provide the means to do so. At the last minute it occurs to somebody to herd those left behind into a large government-built structure, the Superdome; no supplies are on hand for its inhabitants, and the structure itself is rendered--according to the government's assessment--permanently useless. Even though the storm misses the city, government-built levees fail in unforeseen and catastrophic ways. Many of the New Orleans cops opportunistically quit their jobs, many more simply fail to show up for work, others take the lead in looting supplies from storm-stricken neighborhoods, and just a few have the notable good grace to shoot themselves in the head. The federal government announces that assistance is on its way, sometime; local and state authorities--who have the clear-cut burden of "first response" under federal guidelines nobody seems to have read--beg for the feds to hurry up while (a) engaging in bureaucratic pissing-matches behind the scenes and (b) making life difficult for the private agencies who are beating the feds to the scene. Eventually the federal government shows up with the National Guard, and to the uniform indignation and surprise of those who have been screaming for it, the Guard turns out to have a troubling tendency to point weapons in the general direction of civilians and reporters. I'm not real clear on who starts doing what around mid-week, but the various hydra-heads of government start developing amusing hobbies; confiscating guns from civilians, demanding that photographers stop documenting the aftermath of America's worst natural disaster in a century, enforcing this demand by seizing cameras at gunpoint, shutting down low-power broadcasting stations in shelters, and stealing supplies from relief agencies and private citizens. In the wake of all this, there is probably no single provision of the U.S. Constitution left untrampled, the Posse Comitatus Act appears destined for a necktie party, and the 49% of Americans who have been complaining for five years about George W. Bush being a dictator are now vexed to the point of utter incoherence because for the last fortnight he has failed to do a sufficiently convincing impression of a dictator.

Well said. Taking up my own rhetorical bait from above, I think that the calls for more government involvement are primarily based on two powerful motives. First, I believe that many of the statist cheerleaders are likely acting out of sincere selflessness and human compassion, which they, unfortunately, extend from the personal realm to forcibly implement upon the rest of society through government coercion - forced charity, regulation, redistribution, etc. as only the government can enforce. Secondly, I believe that the sheer arrogance of the statist-planners prevents them from accepting their inability to successfully plan their way to utopia. I am perpetually baffled by their uncanny ability to ignore the countless lessons of the previous century and the resulting utter failures that accompany EVERY single statist experiment that their destructive ilk were somehow allowed to perpetrate on the backs of mankind? Good intentions, sociological case studies, and doctoral degrees in urban planning will never, ever, no matter how many fingers you cross, match the efficiency, innovation and informational disbursement of a complex market. As such, the state, comprised of human planners, will forever fall well short of the market's sucesses and superiority.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Forced Evacuations

Why do we tolerate the use of these tactics? As I write this, militarized police and national guardsmen are raiding homes - private property - all around the city of New Orleans, without anything resembling a warrant, and forcibly insisting that property owners abandon their respective homes and property. WTF?? Does this really not bother anyone else? The legal process at work here is not exactly clear to me, but I think it goes something like this: GWB declares a "state of emergency" which thereby allows local officials to invoke martial law and suspend certain liberties including those guaranteed by the US Constitution. First of all, by what authority can the President, alone, do such a thing? While the Federal Constitution does provide that the writ of habeas corpus may be suspended if "public safety" requires such action, this specific enumeration is found in Article I among the powers delegated to Congress. Perhaps that clause hopped over into Article II along with his old buddy the "war power??" Otherwise, how in the h - e - double hockeysticks does the President claim to have the authority to unilaterally place a de facto moratorium on the Constitution's protection of you and me?? That is a question I cannot answer; but I intend to look it up.
Setting aside this legal question for the time being, this evacuation issue tends to kick-start my black helipcopter reflex as well. Despite my occassional paranoid tendencies, I don't think I am being wholly irrational here. Afterall, this is pretty fundamental stuff. On what basis can the state eject us from our homes? And why are we so complacent, if not eager, when the state assumes such sweeping and coercive measures against its own citizens? This is the kind of thing that we fought a revolution over - remember? But here we have elites and the media cheering on the jack-booted thugs as they enforce their so-called "mandatory evacuations." The whole thing reeks of the Reichsfuehrer. To what extent will we allow the state to continually strip our autonomy and liberties in the Orwellian-name of public safety? When will we recognize that the pretextual invocation of safety and security is the lifeblood of the ever-expanding state and that tyranny can always be found a short distance behind? In the ever-eloquent prose of Ben Frfanklin, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety..." You said it, man.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

The Katrina Blame Game

I find it amusing that the left is blaming the Feds and, particularly, the Bush administration - e.g. Republicans - for the post-disaster failures and the right is blaming the local and state government officials within Louisiana who happen to be mostly all Democrats. Is this purely politics or a proper application of the principles of constitutional federalism? While it does nicely fit within the context of the latter, I am sure that is just coincidental. Discuss.
UPDATE: 17:36. Great minds... Jim Henley opines:
From what I can tell in the last couple days’ reading, Katrina has chiefly served to confirm people in their previously held views. Liberals proclaim it proof of the need for a robust federal government (shades of Bill Moyers in September 2001), conservatives find themselves confirmed in their belief in the overriding importance of social order vigorously enforced, and libertarians regard the disaster and its aftermath as an exemplary failure of government. (Anarchists see government failing at even its core functions. State-accepting libertarians see government as having ignored its core functions for inappropriate pursuits.) Environmentalists amaze themselves with the realization that Katrina proves we need cars with better gas mileage and religious nuts of all persuasions discern the hand of God smiting their - and, need it be said, his own - enemies.

The Walmart Model

Cheers to private enterprise and efficiency - via The WaPo:
At 8 a.m. on Wednesday, as New Orleans filled with water, Wal-Mart chief executive H. Lee Scott Jr. called an emergency meeting of his top lieutenants and warned them he did not want a "measured response" to the hurricane." I want us to respond in a way appropriate to our size and the impact we can have," he said, according to an executive who attended the meeting.
At the time, Wal-Mart had pledged $2 million to the relief efforts. "Should it be $10 million?" Scott asked. Over the next few days, Wal-Mart's response to Katrina -- an unrivaled $20 million in cash donations, 1,500 truckloads of free merchandise, food for 100,000 meals and the promise of a job for every one of its displaced workers -- has turned the chain into an unexpected lifeline for much of the Southeast and earned it near-universal praise at a time when the company is struggling to burnish its image.
While state and federal officials have come under harsh criticism for their handling of the storm's aftermath, Wal-Mart is being held up as a model for logistical efficiency and nimble disaster planning, which have allowed it to quickly deliver staples such as water, fuel and toilet paper to thousands of evacuees.
During a tearful interview on "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Aaron F. Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish in the New Orleans suburbs, told host Tim Russert that if "the American government would have responded like Wal-Mart has responded, we wouldn't be in this crisis."
Should we really be surprised? Gee - private enterprise and efficiency - who knew?? What boggles my mind is that we continue to act surprised when our benevolent and plan-crazy super-state fails to match the speed, adequacy and efficiency of the private enterprise system. Isn't it time we allow ourselves to flush this love affair with management-state fairytale once and for all? I know that the true believers on the left really, really want to their state-managed fantasies to materialize: "Oh, if only we had a chance to run the show, we would do it the right way and all would be just peachy - Shangri-La in Amerika..." Give it up, please.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Objective Thoughts

I admit that I have been a bit overly emotive with respect to my NOLA thoughts, so I am going to leave the subject for a while with this piece by Don Boudreaux, NOLA native and Cafe Hayek blogger:

First. While it’s true that New Orleans sits below sea level, and the Mississippi River’s natural flow has been replaced by a human-directed flow, these facts alone do not mean that New Orleans should not exist where it exists. The Netherlands, to pick one example, is one of the many other places that exist only because of human ingenuity at holding back the sea and replacing nature’s boundaries with man-made ones.

The long-standing existence of The Netherlands and other such places, of course, doesn’t prove the wisdom of having a major population center squeezed between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River – but it does mean that New Orleans’s significant reliance upon levees, spillways, and other feats of earth movement and hydraulic engineering is not necessarily a curse condemning New Orleans to tragedy.

Second. Virtually all useful help – from search and rescue to rebuilding – will come from decentralized sources. No governor, no beltway bureaucrat, and certainly no U.S. President, has sufficient knowledge of what must be done and how best to do it. It’s a fantasy to suppose that Washington can ‘save’ or even give much help to New Orleanians today. The vast majority of good and even great deeds will be performed by individuals, with no direction from DC or from any government gency. Individuals each in his or her own unique circumstances, each knowing of unique problems and opportunities, are the ones who will save lives, help re-unite families, and assist in rebuilding homes and infrastructure.

Third. Time and again, the mantra is that government’s core duty is to supply law and order. Well, it’s not doing so in New Orleans. There is little law there today.

Fourth, the government’s plan for protecting people from Katrina – first putting them in the Superdome, then in the New Orleans Convention Center – seems, admittedly in retrospect, to have been grotesquely ill-advised (to put it mildly). People were herded into these places that are utterly inadequate to handle refugees. Then these people were abandoned there. Where were – where are – the great and good government officials, the public servants, dedicated to protecting people from each other and from the elements in such times of grave emergency? They’ve failed. Why?

I understand that the devastation spread by Katrina makes even the most ordinary daily tasks difficult or even impossible to do. There may be good, if regrettable, reasons for why FEMA is taking so long to get water and food to the refugees, and for why there’s too little police presence in the Convention Center. Maybe. But damn it, isn’t it time people reject as a cruel hoax the notion that government possesses superhuman powers and is motivated by angelic intentions? That it can do things that non-political institutions cannot do?

Who can still believe that, when the chips are down and there’s no one left to count on, people can count on their government for basic help? Katrina, in addition to stripping my hometown of life, unmasked the pretenses of government as savior.

We Don't Need Guns...

..., the government will protect us. Try telling that to the helpless owners of looted homes and businesses in NOLA. I agree with Neal Boortz on this one:
For decades the left has been eager to disarm the American people. Democrats and liberals have been dedicated to the idea that only government should have guns, that the people should totally and completely put their right of self defense to government. How would you like to have been one of the people in New Orleans who sat out the storm in their house, only to now find to now find predatory looters trying to come through the front door ... and no police help available. One shot through the door to take out that first looter and the rest would run. They're looking for safe targets, not homeowners with guns. And what about the hospitals? I'm almost dead certain that the rules in these hospitals forbade any employees from having guns on the premises. Now we hear about doctors and nurses moving patients to higher floors of hospitals while looters make their way upstairs. Do they wish they had guns now? How about that children's hospital that was under siege a few nights ago?
Exactly. The purpose of the 2nd Amendment was to insure that the citizens of this country were capable of defending their liberties against an over-zealous and tyrannical government and simultaneously insure that those same citizens were never wholly dependent upon the government for their safety. In other words, the Founders knew that an armed citizenry equaled an independent citizenry. Unfortunately, we are now largely a dependent citizenry and less free as a result.

San Fran 1906

Notice from the Mayor of San Francisco following the earthquake of 1906...
And all the mayor of NOLA does is bitch, place blame, and pity his poor incompetent self.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

NOLA Chaos

Tom Smith shares my astonishment over the insanity on the bayou:

This is, excuse me, just bullshit. It is the job of the national guard to go in harm's way. That's why they carry guns. The police should leave last, not first. I know there are many heroes in NO and I respect them, and praise them. But this idea that the city has to be made safe before the people who should be making it safe can go in, has to stop. Does the NYFD and NYPD have to go down there to show them how it is done? And what is this nonsense about, oh, I was shot at, so I guess I can't go anywhere near there. I've been shot at, by some druggie redneck lowlife. He missed. I was glad. Life went on. Most people miss. It is very hard to hit anything at any distance with a gun. It's not TV. For heaven's sake, send in the helicopters, put some kevlar vests on the crew, send in a few guardsmen with them, and get to work. Get the national guard in there. Start shooting a few looters. Get a grip. This is driving me nuts. OK, I will stop now.

And the bokononist step-brother (who just returned to NOLA from ATL with a new generator) reports that in his lakeside town of Kenner, LA, a gang of thugs have been terrorizing the suburban streets and looting empty homes and businesses (including his). A cop friend relayed to one of my colleagues that a similar group of human waste seized a local hospital and proceeded to rape several women on the premises. According to another unconfirmed report, the mayor of Kenner has taken it upon himself to declare marshal-law within the city and has authorized his police to shoot anyone they choose - good for him. (PLEASE NOTE: the foregoing is all rumor-based and has not been confirmed). Man, is this really happening in America?

You Know Your City Government is Corrupt When...

...the firemen and police are looting along with the other low-life thugs. Maybe NOLA should just be left to waste away? I hate to say it because I really do love the city, the music and the food. It is really a shame. Tyler Cowen, at Marginal Revolution, compares NOLA to post-war and disaster-stricken Japan and weighs the likelihood that NOLA will be rebuilt in the same manner. Here is his conclusion:

Postwar Japan offered healthier institutions than what came before, so the motives for rebuilding cities were obvious. Plus much of Japan was destroyed, so there was less reason to reallocate resources elsewhere in the country. Post-1995 Kobe is the more relevant case for optimism, or try post-1905 San Francisco. But New Orleans has, for a long time, had subpar urban government compared to the rest of the United States. And the city has been declining in relative status for 150 years. If we are starting urban decisions over again from scratch, why reinvest in a lower quality legal environment?

I am inclined to agree. What is the point of rebuilding in a city with this history? I am willing to bet that a large percentage of the New Orleans productive class will simply collect their insurance checks and cruise.