Friday, September 23, 2005

money, politics, and floods

I was debating whether to rant about this, but it seems pretty significant now with Rita bearing down on us.

Michael Williams complain about the 200 billion dollars that the government is spending to rebuild New Orleans. He quotes the Wall Street Journal:
To put that $200 billion in perspective, we could give every one of the 500,000 families displaced by Katrina a check for $400,000, and they could each build a beach front home virtually anywhere in America.
Are they going to be that generous to the other people who lost their homes to Katrina, or only the people of New Orleans? And what about the people who are about to lose their homes to Rita? What if five times as much damage is done by Rita as by Katrina, is the government going to spend a trillion dollars to make it all better?

And how much is going to actually be used to help people? It isn't easy to spend 200 billion dollars. The way this money gets spent is that thousands of people hop on the gravy train, begging for grants to build buildings or sculptures, or teach Tai Chi classes to poor pregnant women who were made to feel helpless by the loss of their homes.

All of these projects get funded largely based not on how useful they are but on how knows who. In relatively honest environments, it's mostly based on friendship. Contractors and heads of NGOs build up friendships with various government functionaries who then approve grants for them out of friendship. Oh, and maybe a job when they retire from government service.

In unusually corrupt places, and it seems pretty obvious that New Orleans is a pretty corrupt place, there are actual kickbacks and money actually disappears (rather than being spent wastefully).

George Bush and our loyal congress people know this as well as we do. They just don't care. They spend money to hush up critics and maybe work up a bit of good will for the next election ... and leave following generations to pay off the debt.

And to make matters worse, the entire project is painfully stupid. Why in the world would anyone rebuild a city below sea level? Are they freaking insane? It is inevitable, absolutely inevitable that there will be another flood and more people killed. How many people are going to die for Bush's popularity? How long will it be until people drown for Bush's popularity and for profits to a bunch of public parasites? It's impossible to say, but meteorologists are predicting that we are entering a period of increasingly severe hurricanes. And then there are the terrorists. We are giving them a thick, juicy target with melted butter on top.

Frankly, I'm sick. I've gone from being a lukewarm Bush supporter to an outright opponent. I thought he was an honorable man who just had some political differences with me. Now I think he's a political hack trying to buy popularity with my tax money (and our kids' tax money) just like any other corrupt politician. I'm sick of George Bush and I'm sick of the corrupt Republicans in Congress who back him up and tear away at our nations flesh like a pack of hyenas, each ripping out his own piece of pork.

And I'm disillusioned. All my life I've blamed most of our nation's problems on the Democrats. When Nixon was president, it was the Democrat Congress that abandoned our Vietnamese allies to slaughter and imprisonment and gave a huge victory to the Russian Empire. When Reagan was president, it was the Democrat congress that wouldn't let him reduce spending. When we had a Republican Senate, we had a Democrat president who put up judges that didn't believe in the Constitution. But today we have a Republican president and a Republican Congress and we are spending more than ever, ignoring genocide in Africa, and still nominating stealth judges to the Supreme Court. You know stealth judges like Souter was.

Is it all because Bush doesn't want to make the losing party mad? Or is it because he really has a lot in common with the losing party and he just hid it well enough to get elected as a Republican?

I don't know. I don't care. Why support Republicans when they are just like Democrats? Can anyone tell me why?

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