14 June, 2006

Banking On Disaster

Ah. There's nothing like government redistribution of wealth.
up to $1.4 billion - perhaps as much as 16 percent of the billions of dollars in assistance expended after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita - was spent for bogus reasons. ... The Federal Emergency Management Agency also was hoodwinked to pay for season football tickets, a tropical vacation and a sex change operation, the audit found. Prison inmates, a supposed victim who used a New Orleans cemetery for a home address and a person who spent 70 days at a Hawaiian hotel

That's an awful lot of our money, frittered away by charlatans. Good-hearted liberals often say their problems with libertarianism are rooted in the seemingly callous way that libertarians treat those in need. If libertarians had power, the U.S. would revert to a Calcutta-like state with starving children begging in doorways and diseased limbs rotting off in the street.

As a Christian libertarian, I stand by the claim that individuals and private charities are better-equipped to deal with the business of charity. And this story is a prime example of why I believe that. Churches all over the country collected money and sent volunteers down to affected areas to repair the damage. Churches all over the country found housing and employment for those displaced by the hurricane. Real people with real needs met real people who could, would and did help. Non-religious charities have done the same type of thing.

The government, on the other hand, appears to believe that problems can be solved by blindly throwing money at them, as though disaster relief is some sort of giant parade. If a few people who don't need the goodies thrown from Uncle Sam's big bag of money, then so what? The Government (or so the thinking appears) has more money than they need. We've succeeded in creating a perception of the Federal Government as an entity entirely seperate from the citizens who fund it. Stealing from the Federal Government isn't as bad a crime, so the thinking goes, because they've got it. And my life is hard and I deserve a little joy so why not pass some love my way, in the form of football tickets? Of course, they're really stealing from me and you. I don't know about you readers out there, but I am not likely to spend 70 days in Hawaii any time soon. Isn't it time we found a way to keep more of the money we work for? Isn't it time we invested in better ways to take care of the real needs, without wasting cash on real greed?

UPDATE: Sarah Moore is all over this, too.
UPDATE II:So is John H. of Salem's Lots.


At 10:07 AM, June 14, 2006, Blogger Short and Fat said...

Kat, I recently took a position where I am responsible for said redistribution. I have given out my alottment of football tickets, however I still have 2 sex change operations available.

I'll hold both of them for you in case you change your mind.

At 1:30 PM, June 14, 2006, Blogger SistaSmiff said...

Will you hold the Hawaiian hotel for me???

Why am I not surprised about all this???

At 4:04 PM, June 14, 2006, Blogger R. David Boyer, II said...

Kat, I am an attorney searching out new and creative ways to make a living. I believe the government needs to give me a grant, because a force worse than a natural disaster caused me to move my offices.

Oh, never mind--Season Tickets to the Colts game will do.

At 10:56 PM, June 14, 2006, Blogger Nick said...

Government fails at everything it attempts to control. Even our military, which is the best in the world, is being help captive by politicians who want to be sensitive to the "religion of peace" Muslims.

The military is about the only government entity that is run efficiently. Other than that, look at public education, welfare, hurricane relief during Katrina and Rita, etc.

At 12:43 AM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

S&F, I'd take you up on the sex change but I honestly don't feel like carting more chunks of flesh on the outside of my body.

Then again, if you have 2 perhaps I could change once and then change back again for the sheer heck of it.

Sista, if I had a Hawaiian hotel for 70 days you'd have to squint to see my backside as I run for the plane. No offense.

RDB, Look into government work. It seems to pay well. ;-p Why would anyone want season tickets to Payton Manning? Is he still on the Colts? I'm surprised I even know that he was once on the Colts.

Nick, preach it. You are absolutely 100% right. Yet what can be done about it?

At 9:00 AM, June 16, 2006, Blogger jhupp said...

I've thought about this concept since I first read that article, but there's a flip side to this notion. Remember that these funds were distributed basically like block grants are, where the government just gives someone money and tells them to use it how they like. This is not that different from a tax cut.

Liberals (I am one) criticize this notion for a variety of reasons, but one of them that frequently goes unspoken is that the people who need that money to be spent wisely will spend it badly. A liberal program wouldn't have been giving these people $1000 to spend; it would have been spending the money on reconstruction efforts directly.

Moreover, I'm not sure you make a very good libertarian case by saying the government shouldn't have given these people the money at all.

As an aside, to comenter Nick, we're never going to agree on what the government should and shouldn't spend its money on, but to say the military is run efficiently flies in the face of nearly every accounting report ever done of it. It may well be the most essential department in the government, but it is not efficient.

At 10:43 AM, June 16, 2006, Blogger Kat Coble said...

these funds were distributed basically like block grants are, where the government just gives someone money and tells them to use it how they like. This is not that different from a tax cut.

It is very different from a tax cut in ONE key way. A tax cut lets the person who earned the money keep more of the money they earned. A block grant takes by force the money from those who earned it and gives to those who purportedly need it.

That may seem like a small detail to you, but it's the biggest detail in the world. I don't care how someone spends the money that is rightfully theirs due to hard work and just compensation. They can blow all their cash on liquor and wimmin if they want. Their money, their decision.

But when you, through threat of imprisonment, take that money and give it to someone else under the guise of "charity"--well, that's a whole different story.

At 12:33 PM, June 16, 2006, Blogger Nick said...

Well jhupp, maybe I am wrong about the efficiency of the military, since I've also heard similar reports as yours from people who are in it. And if that's the case, then government can run NOTHING efficiently, which is why we need less of it at every level.

But I will say this, at least our military produces good results when needed, unlike our public (government) school system, roads, illegal immigration control, DMV, FEMA...

Now that I think about it, though, our government does in fact run one think efficiently, the IRS. Politicians want their money more than anything, so of course they would see to it the IRS produces results.

At 10:56 AM, June 19, 2006, Blogger Jeffraham Prestonian said...

Yet no one seems to talk about the $8.8 Billion which vanished under Viceroy Jerry Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

Whose money was that?


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