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Saturday, September 17, 2005

'OUR FAMILY': A reader writes about rebuilding after Katrina:
We must help these people. They are our family. If not, then why have a country? The President sent a message of hope and healing. It was not only appropriate but necessary. What the President also did was to lay out a recovery plan that embodies many of the policies advocated by conservatives: enterprise zones, entrepeneurship, home ownership, involving religious organizations, suspending Davis-Bacon, etc. This is show time. A real world test of battling ideologies. If it works well then we will see an historical change in the philosophy of government in this country. If not, then it's back to the drawing board.
I agree that the president's message conveyed hopeful and wise elements, especially enterprize zones and other market-smart approaches. Still, I don't like the absence of White House price tag, even a ballpark figure. On the one hand, this is a president whose advisors are business-friendly and this encourages me to think he'll get strong counsel against FDR/LBJ type "let government do it" responses to Katrina. On the other hand, the current budgets are unsustainable and adding to them is sheer madness, regardless whether the source of the deficits is Katrina, Medicare prescriptions, or Iraq. Rep. Mike Pence's Operation Offset is an obvious starting point toward fiscal sanity. Nation as "family"? Fine by me, but the present American family doesn't need any additional dysfunction. Families that live beyond their means, and do so chronically, are headed toward ruin. The president's plan to borrow $200 billion to "clear away the legacy of inequality" is like a family invading the kids' college fund or your own retirement fund to pay for monthly expenses. I'm all for helping people at times of need, but not in ways that reinforce a culture of dependency, or ways that in ways that are financially/fiscally dumb. "Why have a country?" The Constitution provides some interesting clues. It's good to read it now and then. I'm just not persuaded that the Founders had bankruptcy in mind as the inevitable endpoint when they decided on the phrase "promote for the general welfare."