Katrina Relief Six
February 20, 2006
Senate concluded hearings last week on the federal mismanagement of Hurricane
Katrina relief efforts, and the findings were troubling.
In short, the federal government wasted literally billions of dollars
responding to the disaster, dollars that did little to help Katrina victims at
grotesque amounts of waste, mismanagement, and outright fraud involving those
funds are staggering.
spent millions on unusable temporary housing that did not meet FEMAís own
regulations for placement in flood zones. $2000
debit cards were issued to nonexistent people; some cards were used for
everything from tattoos to bail bonds. Emergency relief checks were issued to nearly one million
bogus applicants. Some evacuees
were housed in $400 per night hotel suites.
The list goes on and on.
abuses were inevitable, unfortunately. They
are the direct result of a top-down, centralized, bureaucratic system that
wrongly assumes Washington planners always know best, that every issue and
problem should be addressed at the federal level.
But clearly Washington officials were in no position to know what was
needed in the gulf coast in the aftermath of a hurricane.
reacted to Katrina in typical Washington-knows-best fashion.
It immediately appropriated over $60 billion with no planning or debate,
mostly to show that government was ďdoing something.Ē
Political grandstanding masqueraded as compassion.
As with all rapid government expenditures, the money was spent
All federal aid for Katrina should have been distributed as directly as possible to local communities, rather than through wasteful middlemen like FEMA and Homeland Security. Considering the demonstrated ineptitude of government at both the federal and state level in this disaster, the people affected by the hurricane and subsequent flood no doubt would have been better off if relief money simply was sent directly to them or to community organizations dedicated to clean-up and reconstruction.
best way to rebuild New Orleans is to provide entrepreneurial incentives for
people and businesses willing to do the hard work involved.
I voted for several bills last fall that provide some measure of tax
relief for Katrina victims, but more could be done.
Imagine the revitalization that would occur if Congress declared New
Orleans a federal tax-free zone for 5 or 10 years.