mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Making laws is like making sausage...

I was speaking to two coworkers yesterday who are regular readers of this blog. One commented that my writing has seemed "less angry" and I said it was probably because it's been less political, because I haven't found any political subjects to have strong feelings over. The other coworker then mentioned that he did have something that he was disappointed with - the amount of spending Bush has proposed for Katrina recovery in Louisiana.

I agree with him. I would love it if Bush pointed out that while Katrina was tragic and effected many people, tragedies occur every day - house fires, smaller natural disasters, crimes, ect - and the federal government doesn't step in. Katrina is a great example of the importance of carrying insurance. Private charities and individuals have done a great job getting relief to Katrina victims. I would love to see Bush say that the feds role in disaster recovery is limited. I would also love for him to point out that quickly building a bunch of buildings in a flood plain located below sea level may not be the wisest idea - that maybe there is a good reason why buildings won't get built in the 9th ward if the government doesn't build them - because private developers are smart enough not to build buildings in a place where they are likely to get washed away, unless the government makes it worth their while.

But instead, it looks like $250 Billion or so is going to be going to LA, and it's going to go to state and local government officials who were not exactly forward-thinking about evacuations, and to people in a government whose corruption is legendary. Most of it - our money - will go to waste.

But Bush isn't going to get up and say that he's not giving money to LA. It would be political suicide. The press has crucified Bush, FEMA, and the Republicans for not doing stuff they shouldn't have done in the first place, like evacuate the city (local job) or send in national guard troops (which would have been in violation of federal law). Plus there is the left's claims that Bush hates the poor, minorities, ect. Taking the right stand would destroy the Republican party, because the media and special intrest groups would go nuts. So Bush has no choice but to throw Federal money - our money - at Louisiana, even though most of it will probably go right down the toilet.

Conservatives who want to come up with a way to not commit political suicide but to still cut spending have come up with PorkBusters, a conservative effort by bloggers to shame legislators into cutting pork spending in their districts to make up for Katrina spending. But it will probably fail, for the same reason that Bush is giving money to Katrina victims in the first place - politics. All politics are local. Spending on stupid projects in another state is wasteful, evil pork spending. Spending on stupid projects in your home state is the key to getting relected.

Personally, I would love to see the Federal government get out of the highway business. Much of the pork comes from federal Highway and Transportation Act. Now, Mad Anthony is a huge fan of interstate highways, which get him to work, shopping, and to his parent's house in NJ at holidays. But we have a pretty good interestate system, and now we are just maintaining and expanding it. That's something that could be done more efficiently if the states just paid for it themselves, rather than taxing people at the federal level and redistributing the money to the most politically connected states. Federal spending means money spent on stupid things that wouldn't get built if money was coming from locals - like pretty much every road in West Virginia.

Federal highway funds also have allowed a backdoor national drinking age of 21 and national BAC of 0.8, by threatening to withhold funds from states that don't have those things. It's federal control of something that should be state, and I would love to see it go away.

But politicians won't dissolve it, because having the Robert Byrd Memorial Slab O' Concrete is a great way for Robert Byrd to get reelected by the people who poured that concrete.

And as far as helping out Louisiana, I kind of like the Lileks suggestion:

In fact, we should tax less -- if New Orleans were made immune from corporate taxes for 10 years, the Mafia would go legit just to move there and sell Sopranos tchotchkes.


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