Louisiana, Epitome Of Entitlement

I have written, as have many others, about the entitlement environment that existed in New Orleans and how it contributed to the catastrophe. One has to wonder why the exodus from Texas cities went much smoother. Were there some snags, sure but that will happen when you evacuate 3 million people. But they got out, the buses ran, the elderly were taken care of and now the emergency workers are spending little time rescuing and more time getting things back in order. There are those who will say that Texas and the feds learned from Katrina. They would be wrong. While there certainly were some lessons learned the fact is they could not possibly learn major lessons and put them into practice in two weeks. In addition to all this, the feds had a very small role. The difference of course is leadership. Louisiana lacks it and Texas showed it.

Now there are reports that the politicians from Louisiana, from both parties, are greasing up the pork barrel in their requests for our money. They put in a request for money to fix the levee that is 10 times the annual budget of the Corps of Engineers! The COE estimates it would cost 2.5 billion to upgrade the levees. This makes one wonder exactly what the politicians are trying to do with our money. Here are some things that they want to spend taxpayer money on, money that is a gift because they are not entitled to it:

  • Louisiana’s congressional delegation has requested $40 billion for Army Corps of Engineers projects in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, about 10 times the annual Corps budget for the entire nation, or 16 times the amount the Corps has said it would need to protect New Orleans from a Category 5 hurricane.
    Louisiana Sens. David Vitter (R) and Mary Landrieu (D) tucked the request into their $250 billion Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief and Economic Recovery Act, the state’s opening salvo in the scramble for federal dollars.
  • The bill directs the Pelican (Protecting Essential Louisiana Infrastructure, Citizens and Nature) Commission to study several key flood-protection projects, as well as a $14 billion ecosystem restoration for Louisiana’s vanishing coastal marshes, which help protect vulnerable communities against storm surges.
  • The 440-page bill also includes $50 billion in open-ended grants for storm-ravaged communities
  • $13 billion for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development
  • mortgage assistance
  • health care
  • substance abuse treatment and other services for hurricane victims
  • But the list of potential projects also includes a 50-year-old plan for a $750 million lock for the New Orleans Industrial Canal, a project rated the fifth-worst Corps boondoggle in the country by an alliance of taxpayer advocates and environmentalists.

These are just some of the items that they want to spend money on. Some of them are worthy but others are not part of the damage from Katrina and I do not think any politician from Louisiana should get an open ended anything. They need oversight. There needs to be a close eye on how every penny is spent or it will be in someone’s pet project or sending somebody to Vegas for vacation.

The reason the entitlement attitude is pervasive there is because that is how the politicians feel. Here is what they said about your money.

  • “We’re going to fight hard for every dollar,” Landrieu said. “We wanted to tell people the truth: It’s going to be an expensive recovery, but worth the investment.”
  • The governor yesterday asked for $31.7 billion in federal funds for her state’s infrastructure, including $20 billion for hurricane protections — which aides described as a down payment on the larger sum.

They are going to fight hard for every last dollar of your money for their pet projects and they look at the smaller sum as a down payment. As if we are thrilled about buying into this. A down payment is what we put on a home, for ourselves, not the money for pork projects.

I really believe that Louisiana should have no say in how the money is spent. The feds should go in and make sure that items that are needed are built and that there are no, and I mean NO, projects that are undertaken that have nothing to do with the storm. Louisiana officials are telling us how much of our money they are going after and on what kind of pork they are going to spend it. We need to make sure they are kept in line and if they don’t like it we can take our checkbook and go home.

Here is a quote that tells it all:
“This bill boggles the mind,” said Steve Ellis, a water resources expert at Taxpayers for Common Sense. “Brazen doesn’t begin to describe it. The Louisiana delegation is using Katrina as an excuse to resurrect a laundry list of pork projects.”

Read it here.

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