Third Party & Independents Archives

Marshall Plan for the Gulf Coast?

The clean up in the Gulf Coast has started. Several businesses have moved in and are beginning to restore some level of operations in the region. The question that comes to mind to me is: How big is the job? Some pundits have put the damage reports at over $100 billion dollars. I would expect it will be more as we have experience in finding more problems as we are working on the ones we know about. What should be done to coordinate the efforts? Should we have a domenstic Marshall Plan coordinated by the Federal Government? During the period of 1947 through 1950, the United States poured the equivalent of $100 billion in 2005 US dollars into Europe to help rebuild several of the countries affected by the War. The effort was coordinated and offcially “led” by General George Marshall, hence the name.

With respect to the Gulf Coast, we've seen an extraordinary outpouring of individual assistance through donations of time, money and sweat equity already for the embattled area. How long will the efforts be sustained before people run out of money to donate or run out of interest? I think it is pretty hard to tell right now with any sense of accuracy how long the clean-up and rebuilding will take. It seems to me however that we should immediately be focusing our attentions on building the relationships, networks, capabilties and personnel resources necessary to design and implement a plan for recovery. I would prioritize this versus the investigations on what went wrong and who is to blame that will inevitably be started by the congress.

There are literally thousands of people with the expertise from city planning to environmental clean-up that need to be organized and coordinated into action. We have economists already predicting debilitating after-effects of the storm on our economic forecasts,so there's no time like the present to begin the rebuilding process.

How would we organize something like this today? We have signfiicant public/private partnerships that could be leveraged. This seems like an Apollo project in the making to me. Americans respond generously when called upon to help. I think this is one of those moments where we need to have the leadership of the country ask us again, "What can we do for our country?".

I'm interested to know (if you agree with the Marshall Plan idea) who the President would appoint to lead it? What do you think?

Posted by Dennis at September 14, 2005 10:56 AM
Comments
Comment #80462

Dennis:

I’ve heard Colin Powell’s name floated as being some kind of “hurricane czar”. With his reputation and credentials, he is the first who would come to my mind.

Posted by: joebagodonuts at September 14, 2005 11:49 AM
Comment #80466

Dennis, I agree it is going to take some form of a plan to be successful.

I have heard three names bandied about, Jimmy Carter, Colin Powell and Marc Morial.

Not that anyone in high places will ask my opinion, but I believe Marc Morial is worth considering. He not only has a background of experience in New Orleans (which could also be a minus) but he does have the support of the National Urban League.

I would of course state that with the understanding I haven’t fully researched Mr. Morial but on first impression? It appears he might be a better candidate than Jimmy Carter or Colin Powell.

I also believe this should be a joint effort, not just federal and state but private businesses as well. Responsibilities need to be clearly laid out right from the creation for this to succeed.

Posted by: Lisa Renee at September 14, 2005 11:59 AM
Comment #80470

Dennis,
I agree with your idea about a so called Marshall Plan for rebuilding The Gulf Region. However, I would like to see it go to the next level of Civilization. By requiring all new homes that are built in the area meet a Cat 5 building code as we did on the East Coast. Additionally, I would like to see the plan demand that these homes are built with and Off Grid Energy Solutions

Additionally, I would like to see “Ty” of Extreme Home Makeover lead the housing building aspect of the plan due to his “Hollywood” connection. Also, since “The Delta” in LA most be redesigned, I believe Tidal Generators would supply the electrical requirements for the commercial zones.

Yes, something like the Marshall Plan would bring a great out pour of community pride; however, by designing the plan so that All the Lastest Technology can take priority, America can hold it up to the world as just what Americans can do when we set our mind to doing what is Right by Nature.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 14, 2005 12:15 PM
Comment #80476

Marshall Planwas a wonderful demonstration of American practical generosity Ė but it came with lots of strings attached. That is one reason it worked. It also worked because the U.S. was the only country that could supply capital needed and capital was in short supply.

The conditions are really different today. Something like a Marshall Plan would be counter-productive. It would slow recovery. The worst thing we can do is appoint a government czar. Czar were never much good at anything Ė And Jimmy Carter. Give me a break. He is one of our best ex-presidents and it may have been better if he could have gone directly to that status.

Look at all the good thingshappening already.

Posted by: jack at September 14, 2005 12:51 PM
Comment #80484

I’m with Jack on this.

For example, look at the pathetic disgrace that is “Homeland Security”. It is a hulking behemoth, the perfect example of a big-goverment approach toward problem solving, impressive only in its enormity, and utterly ineffective at its intended purpose. I don’t know many people- left, center, or right -who think “Homeland Security” is a ragingly successful bureaucracy.

I think I just made an oxymoron… “ragingly successful bureaucracy”… sorry. Rambling.

I believe that the less control the federal goverment has over rebuilding the Gulf area, the better. They should be limited to securing ports/borders, taking care of interstates, providing a military when/where invited… but not a whole lot more.

Let’s keep in mind that these billions being thrown at the Gulf region are not billions we have sitting in savings. We are in debt past our ability to help ourselves and this is more debt that we cannot repay if we keep doing business as usual.

In my opinion, everyone on The Hill, and I include the president, congress, senate, blue, red, and otherwise, (earning more than their worth, getting benefits and retirements the likes of which no other American citizen could ever dream of) is throwing this money -which isn’t theirs to throw- at the Gulf area so that they can puff up their chests, point proudly, and proclaim, “See??? We DO care!”

Money does not, never has, and never will, equal caring.

Posted by: missjoy at September 14, 2005 1:16 PM
Comment #80486

That’s why I stated we need a plan and we all realize the feds will have a role in this but it needs to involve federal, state and private as well with very clear defined responsibilities. The less federal involvement the better as far as speed and lessening of making it a political event.

Another reason I don’t support Powell, it should be someone not involved in the Bush administration from an appearance point of view.

Posted by: Lisa Renee at September 14, 2005 1:41 PM
Comment #80504

Well, i’m not an expert in anything related to what’s going on in the Southeast but there is one general idea that seems interesting.

If the government is going to “robin hood” the situation by dint of the government promising to give over our paychecks, ie: mandatory charity (rather than letting Americans donate where/how they choose) then perhaps the government could:

1. Funnel those dollars straight into LOCAL charities, LOCAL governments (ie: cities, townships, parishes, whatever they call themselves).

2. Funds should be made available to LOCAL churches, synagogues, etc;. The catholic charities do great work all over the nation, and the Mormon/LDS welfare system is a volunteer-only non-profit work of art in LOCALIZED efficiency and effectiveness. I’m sure other religions/faiths/non-profit organizations have the same sorts of systems, too.

3. Allow LOCAL businesses (maybe those who are willing to match funds dollar-for-dollar?) help out so that we can “stretch” our tax dollars a little further. Of course there would need to be an accountability feature there, so I think these dollars should be sent to the cities/towns to have the LOCAL governments distribute to the participating businesses. And then let the LOCAL leadership be accountable to their LOCAL constituents during election time.

4. Absolutely NOT participate in corporate welfare, specifically in regards to the enormous, corrupt, morally bankrupt insurance companies who have sucked up premiums (in some cases for over a century) and are now weeping, wailing, and gnashing their teeth, hands held out to the federal government for bail-out money. Make them pay, per the policies they’ve become wealthy on, down to the penny. Even if it means their CEO has to give up the company Hummer and Benz, and they no longer get to have their lunches catered, so be it. And as sad as it would be for the “little guys”, these insurance companies shouldn’t be bailed out, even if they have to shut their doors.

Unfortunately, I’m certain the federal government, having *ahem* ‘allocated’ these funds, won’t part with them, won’t give up control of them, will only grow larger, and for every $1.00 pulled out of my paycheck, the poorest and neediest and most deserving citizens from the southeast may see $.03 to $.05. If they’re lucky.

That said, American citizens (generally speaking) are amazing critters. In times of need and disaster, they can even be awe-inspiring. They manage, time and again, despite our federal government’s best efforts to the contrary, to rise above… to excel… to accomplish… to quietly live out lives of heroism. We should put these billions right into the hands of citizens, or as close to citizens (note the usage of the word “LOCAL” throughout this post) as possible to ensure the highest amount of accountability. And to ensure that every penny of these funds are used as effectively and efficiently as humanly possible. Local leaders are usually highly adept at this.

My mother-in-law Lawrrie is a perfect example of someone who can take $100 and do $3,000 worth of good with it… she heads up her neighborhood blockwatch and various other community projects, all on a volunteer basis… and she can stretch a dollar farther than anyone I know. If they even had a handful of Lawrries down in the southeast, and a tiny percentage of the money congress has already committed, it would all be up and fixed in a week or two, and there’d be breakfast first and iced tea after, for everyone involved.

Posted by: missjoy at September 14, 2005 3:10 PM
Comment #80505

Interesting posts. I’m thinking we may be better off Non-Governmental Organization in charge of the renewal effort. This could be an existing NGO, or one formed by a public/private partnership that can bring the assets to bear. I’d believe that major industry segments that depend on the port of NOLA would be involved, but, you could also engage the tech, healthcare and manufacturing sectors as well. Construction firms would play a role as well as city and metro planning consultancies. They could be given a budget from the Fed/State/Local community and report on progress to the Inspector General’s Office in the department of Health and Human Services and others. Budgetary control would be based on a governance structure that has no political partisanship and as a matter of fact could be an appointed board of directors from industry and government. Simply handing this over to an existing government agency without the tension of another branch of government or a private sector level of involvement wouldn’t be wise in my view. The TVA is a model that comes to mind. Public and private partnerships were established to do the massive projects of rural electrification in the 30’s and this involved fed, state, local and private business. The key to me is keeping the flow of money transparent and distributed in a timely fashion to the renewal projects as it becomes necessary. It’s a helluva project.

Posted by: Dennis at September 14, 2005 3:11 PM
Comment #80507

BTW,

What about Rudy G.?

Posted by: Dennis at September 14, 2005 3:15 PM
Comment #80508

It is an unfortunate reality that we now find ourselves with the government we deserve. A majority of the American people went to the polls and voted for a person who over simplifies the complex issues of today. He sounds great for 29 seconds. He injects humor where it doesnít belong. He offers tax relief and suggests that what ever that money would have been spent on is not our reasonability. And we love him for it.

Now, when we find ourselves faced with a crisis of unbelievable proportions the fact that he continues with his witty remarks and simple-minded approach should not surprise us. After all, thatís why we elected him in the first place. The American public needs to wake up to the fact that today we have the president we deserve and that if we continue to elect government based single issues without concern for the bigger picture. We will most likely find ourselves in this position again. The president must represent all the people; He or she needs to take into consideration the needs of all Americans even the ones who didnít vote for them. That has become a very rare point of view in Washington at late.

The question that we all should be asking ourselves between now and Nov. 2008 is: Have we gained any wisdom about what is truly important in life, or are we going to be hoodwinked again.

Posted by: Dave at September 14, 2005 3:22 PM
Comment #80510

Dave, while I don’t disagree with the sentiment regarding the president, I’m not sure it’s quite relevant to my question about what we should do to address the problem facing us. I think it’s a time for community (government, private sector, individuals) to come together for the common good and make some progress. It doesn’t have to be the president leading this. It probably should, but doesn’t have to be. We’ve had non governmental people lead massive relief efforts before. Herbert Hoover, before he was president adroitly led a relief effort in Poland and Eastern Europe after World War 1 and did so again in the aftermath of World War II as a private citizen. Someone, whether as already mentioned a Colin Powell, a Rudy Guliani, or perhaps someone from Industry like Bill Gates, Andy Grove or Jack Welch, or someone from the community affected. At any rate, a charismatic, action oriented person who would focus on results instead of political achievement. For that, I’d leave former President Clinton and Bush I out of it.

Whatever the case, we have to address this as a national problem that everyone can contribute and work on and do it as Americans, not northerners or southerners, liberals or conservatives, but Americans. We have a massive opportunity to bring our country together and display to the rest of the world who we really are.

Posted by: Dennis Sherrard at September 14, 2005 3:36 PM
Comment #80512

I thought this string was an enjoyable, thoughtful, constructive discussion on how we might best direct resources, people, efforts, etc; to most effectively rebuild the SE. Gee, Dave, I don’t remember anyone asking for someone to once again get up on that tired old “I hate Bush” soapbox.

Posted by: missjoy at September 14, 2005 3:40 PM
Comment #80515

Dennis, your idea regarding construction firms playing a part and then reporting on progress is brilliant, although I’d rather not have them report to the Feds. Is there a way that it could be done, do you think, that could minimize the federal government’s fingers dipping into the pie? Non-partisan budgetary control would be fantastic… how could we ensure that partisanship would be kept out of it? What a fantastic, thoughtful post.

Posted by: missjoy at September 14, 2005 3:44 PM
Comment #80522

The government (local, State, & Federal)does have a major role to play in making a plan like this work. However, their job is Limited to REGULATING such things as building codes. Additionally, IMO I think that they sould only support and finance “Green Projects and Industries” that are American born and breed. They should also remove the regulations that prevent millions of us from purchasing Local, State, & Federal Bonds that will be sold to pay for all building.

By promoting the idea of Investing in Green, all of Americans can prosper. Changing cutting grass into environmental management of a property would not only increase the pay for an individual, but force both corporations and individuals to grow. Additionally, the manufacturing jobs it would create across the country would be a welcome site in the economy.

So my question is how do we take this idea to a level of National Debate?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 14, 2005 4:11 PM
Comment #80523

We don’t need another hero like Herbert Hoover. We don’t need a massive Federal effort. These things will slow the recovery. The mechanisms are already working.

If you want to see real looting, throw a lot of Federal money at Louisiana. It will make what happened in New Orleans or even Iraq small potatoes.

In the case of a big disaster, we often want to do something big in response. But that is not the correct course of action.

Posted by: Jack at September 14, 2005 4:11 PM
Comment #80525

Missjoy,

First of all, thank you for the kind comments. As to you your last question, we could sheild it somewhat, but since a lot of money would be coming from the Fed, they would want some oversight. The critical safety net to me is the governance board or board of directors. They would be primarily responsible for review and approval of budget allocations to the various workgroups (i.e. construction, health care, education,). If the Board of Directors (BOD) was comprised of very independent people (i.e. Bill Gates, Jack Welch, etc.), then they have enough wealth, prestige, etc to tell the Fed to go pounds sand if they are interfering. It would be a public relations nightmare for the Federales because they would be called out for interfering with a relief effort. Regardless of which party was in control, they wouldn’t want that type of embarrassment. Couldn’t you see the headlines? “Government interfering with relief work because majority leader wants to award a construction contract to a firm from his district”

It would be interesting

Posted by: Dennis at September 14, 2005 4:16 PM
Comment #80527

I think the way you raise the debate on this to the national level is the same way that action was taken to remove Mr. Brown from the head of FEMA. There is still a significant amount of emotional outrage about this and it is still fresh enough in the media that if someone presented a coherent plan fronted by some relatively signficant players, I believe it would gain some momentum and be treated as a serious option to work the problem. Someone with some juice would need to get behind the idea of the proposal and push it forward until those who control the budgets (Fed/State/Local) came up with an alternative that would be equivalent in scope, benefit and capability, or would sanction the proposal. It’s basically saying “o.k., here’s our plan”, tell me you are funding it or tell me what your’s is and why it will work better. I believe the key is to act while the tragedy is still on people’s minds.

Posted by: Dennis at September 14, 2005 4:24 PM
Comment #80529

Jack,
Build it and they will come, Right? I do agree that as far as major corporations goes, not a dime of government funds should go to help them. However, the Mom & Pop Businesses and individual homes that cost under $150,000.00 should be allowed to borrow money based on need.

A building materail budget of $50,000.00 could build a very nice home for a family. Spread out over 30 years, the payments would be about $140.00/mth. Since 3-4% interest is paid out on Bonds, theses loans should also carry that weight. Than the rest of the money that would normaly be associated with a loan could go to purchase Local, State, & Federal Bonds. In this manner, If you build the Homes, Businesses will come instead of the reverse thinking of our current society leaders.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 14, 2005 4:25 PM
Comment #80531

Jack, I’m in total agreement that if things are working, let them go without any “Help” from the government. However, I think we’ll find out that the existing relief and recovery efforts will go only so far as to support the interests that are currently involved. By that, I mean the business will focus their efforts on the recovery of their property and assets and business operations. Some of the more forward thinking companies will focus efforts on rebuilding homes for their employees and working on other aspects of getting things back online.

I do think there are some issues like infrastructure (roads, bridges, Levees, etc.) that require folks like the Army Corp of Engineers to be engaged. Other areas such as hospitals, schools, etc. need to also come oneline. Someone needs to coordinate this and it should be managed as a major program with project managers and a strict focus on governance of budget, time and resources…

Posted by: Dennis Sherrard at September 14, 2005 4:32 PM
Comment #80538

We forget how very rich we have become. During the Marshall Plan, Europe was really impoverished. No capital was available in general to rebuild. In our case, much of the investments that need to be made are more or less routine. Insurance should cover much of the damage.

Before we get into it, yes people should have insurance. The federal government should not bail out individuals in a situation like this any more than they would bail you out if you failed to insure your house and it burned down.

The government should invest in the usual infrastructure, but it has no business rebuilding individual houses.

Some places should not be rebuilt at all. The parts of New Orleans most hard hit should not be rebuilt in general. It is irresponsible for people to rebuild on a place where they will be victims again very soon. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice ….

People have been warning us for fifty years that New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen. Our efforts to avert this disaster postponed it, but made it worse when it hit. If you believe in global warming you have to see how stupid it is to build below the CURRENT sea level. Even if you donít believe in global warming, it is still stupid.

Posted by: Jack at September 14, 2005 5:00 PM
Comment #80540

No kiddin’
It would be better to just buy a boat.

Posted by: d.a.n at September 14, 2005 5:02 PM
Comment #80544

Jack, I agree that people shouldn’t expect the Fed to bail them out. I do think however if they are destitute, then a helping hand is warranted. Low interest, long term loans, deferment of debt and transition assistance (assuming they are moving) are things that come to mind for the most in need.

Rebuilding New Orleans as it was is foolish. To build below sea level is foolish whether you believe in Global Warming or not. It’s simply a matter of time before you bite the big one.

I do beleive however that New Orleans can be rebuilt around the same location. However it will take a pretty massive engineering effort to raise the areas below sea level and develop a levee system that will handle hurricanes of a level 4 or 5 in strength. The Netherlands have managed their country very well over the centuries. Galveston island was raised about 20 feet on the east end after the 1900 hurricane. It can be done. The question, is should it? I think that’s a question the people of New Orleans need to answer. It’s also something they should bear the most responsibility for paying for.

Posted by: Dennis Sherrard at September 14, 2005 5:14 PM
Comment #80552

New Orleans sets at the mouth of the Mighty Mississppi River which feeds The Heartland of America by both bringing in imports and exporting the grain that feeds the world. So unless you are talking about killing the Heart of America, rebuilding the city will stand as it has for over 200 years.

That being said, I agree that a lot of work needs to be done. In 1998 the Louisina Coastal Area Restoration Project was proposed by The Army Corp of Engineering that will protect N.O. and the harbors that make up to 1/6th of our economy.

Additionally, Agencies like NOAA will provide funds for wetlands projects which benefit living marine resources which can be incoporated into any rebuilding plan so that we can once again enjoy cajun jumbo. Other agencies that will added into the planning is City Planners Assoc. and many more professionals seeking their two cents worth.

However, that takes care of “Big Businesses” and if I understand Dennis and Jack’s concerns this is not what you want our money to go for. Well, they hold the pruse strings so they get the “Big Bucks.” Yet, Americans, especially the citizens living in the area will have some imput at public hearings. And that is where “We the People” need to be heard.

Invest vs. Tax is your options. Given the history of both political party’s, they want to tax you. What I would like to see other than what I have mentioned above is the opportunity for Every American to invest through Treasury Notes the rebuilding of the area. In that way, every citizen will become directly involved in the oversight of how the money is spent.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 14, 2005 6:04 PM
Comment #80579

This is terrific thread, Dennis, because you’ve asked people to weigh in with their constructive ideas. I wish more of WatchBlog’s theads operated this way.

If the Board of Directors (BOD) was comprised of very independent people (i.e. Bill Gates, Jack Welch, etc.), then they have enough wealth, prestige, etc to tell the Fed to go pounds sand if they are interfering.

I think this is a pretty good idea. There’s just no way the federal government is going to stay out of this. It simply can’t, because too much taxpayer money is going to go into it, and it shouldn’t, because there are still a lot of things only the federal government can do, as we’ve just seen.

BUT we can try to ensure the federal money is watched closely and managed well. Also, there’s going to have to be a lot public/private/NGO partnerships. Some of this will be self-managing but there will also need to be people who can make decisions with a minimum of bureaucracy.

do think there are some issues like infrastructure (roads, bridges, Levees, etc.) that require folks like the Army Corp of Engineers to be engaged. Other areas such as hospitals, schools, etc. need to also come oneline. Someone needs to coordinate this and it should be managed as a major program with project managers and a strict focus on governance of budget, time and resources?

Absolutely correct.

It can be done. The question, is should it?

Only if it’s done right. But I can’t imagine an America that doesn’t do it. If we don’t, it truly is a new era in our history. I think we should see it as an opportunity. Global warming is real, however you feel about its causes. There are going to be more and more cities below sea level. It’s time to figure out how to make it work well.

As for the Marshall Plan comparison, it’s apt in some ways but I’ve got to point out that this isn’t a matter of rebuilding Europe. We’re rebuilding our own country. And I’m fine with Colin Powell putting a face on the project, as long as he’s allowed to be a lot more independent than he was as Secretary of State - though the whole WMD punchline will follow him around. Alternately, some respected and proven former governor might be the kind of exec ready to take on such a mission.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at September 14, 2005 9:20 PM
Comment #80582

You guys have too much confidence in leaders and government.

Colin Powell is a great and good man. But he has never run a real business. No individual could be expected to do this reconstruction AND it doesnít need to be done with any individual leading it.

Letís look at the big development projects led by important individuals

No Ė there arenít ANY.

The Federal government is very bad a big complex projects that donít involve fighting wars, building very powerful bombs or landing men on the moon.

And read up a little more on the Marshall Plan. George Marshall didnít manage the plan. No ďczarĒ managed it.

A big government-rebuilding project is Soviet or N. Korean. Consider their success before you advocate giving power to a dear leader.


PS - the Dutch build under sea level because they got no place else to go. We Americans have lots of land. We donít have to spend billions of dollars to destroy the local environment so that we can build a city where it never should be. We can move a little up the hill.

BTW Ė the parts of New Orleans we know and love Ė the French Quarter and the Garden District Ė were not drown. They donít need to be rebuilt. You could have that city of New Orleans at little cost. Letís be smart about it. We have a chance to correct a mistake we made and compounded over the last century. The parts of New Orleans that are above water are the nice parts. Nature wants to keep the rest. Let her have it.

Posted by: jack at September 14, 2005 9:53 PM
Comment #80590
No individual could be expected to do this reconstruction AND it doesnt need to be done with any individual leading it.

jack, I think you’re taking this too literally. Someone or some group of persons will ultimately have responsibility for overseeing the federal funds spent in Louisianna. Maybe it’ll be a congressional committee. Maybe it’ll be several working in tandem with FEMA. Maybe it’ll be a czar. But it’ll happen. That doesn’t mean there will be a single architect, if that’s what you’re concerned about.

As for rebuilding New Orleans, like you, I wouldn’t want to see it built only to be flooded again. A lot of the wetlands do need to be given over to nature. But, as I understand it, there’s a lot of critical national infrastructure as well as deep cultural heritage in an area of true commercial strategic importance. It’s unlikely to be abandoned.

As for the money, if we can spend billions and billions (and billions) in Iraq for a questionable cause, I think we should be able to spend some money here in the U.S. to rebuild a great American city. If we don’t or can’t, we’re in even bigger trouble than I thought. What exactly would we think of the Italians if they gave up on Venice after a disaster? And how would you feel if this were San Francisco or Los Angeles after an enormous city-crushing earth quake? Or some other great city after a terrorist attack?

Yes, do it better and more wisely. And maybe give up on some of the most hopelessly vulnerable areas. But don’t try to do it on the cheap. There are going to be much, much more difficult challenges than this one ahead for both our nation and our world.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at September 14, 2005 11:32 PM
Comment #80594

jack, we agree on this entirely. Why is commons sense so lacking? There were areas relatively unaffected, yes, they can stand and be restored.

But, rebuilding the lowlands, which are going to continue to subside, is to invite masses of people back into jeopardy. The engineering exists to make New Orleans waterproof over the course of a decade or less. But the cost to do so, both in tax dollars, as well as risk to life and well being between now and the time years hence when the engineering is completed is foolish, stupid, and a horrible gamble to take with lives and billions of tax dollars that otherwise could be saved.

I stand with you on your pragmatism and common sense. I hope there will be sufficient numbers of politicians with your rational thinking to insure we do not take extraordinary risks which are unnecessary.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 15, 2005 12:28 AM
Comment #80600

What do you people think of George Bush removing the minimum wage requirement for workers in New Orleans? I also heard Halliburton got the first contract for rebuilding. Wow. A non-Bid, non-auditable Contract with the ability of shortchanging the workers legally. Profits GALORE!!!

If I were you I would buy Halliburton Stock right now. No telling how much tax money Bush/Cheney will throw at them next. Gotta admire that loyalty.

Posted by: Aldous at September 15, 2005 4:43 AM
Comment #80602

Aldous, I hadn’t heard the point you made about the minimum wage issue. I’m frankly not sure where I come down on that. I believe we need to get as much labor in the area as possible to start rebuilding.

As to the sole sourcing of contracts with companies like Halliburton, that is why I’m advocating an independent board of directors review and approve budget allocations to drive the reconstruction. There will be profiteers involved in this, no doubt about it. That’s the ugly side of this business. I think that with a few checks and balances, and the bright light of transparency in contracting and expenditures, we could mitigate some of the graft. “Open book accounting”, which is basically a requirement of all vendors to open their books on their costs and margins on the program could be a requirement that helps control price gouging and profiteering. This stuff can be managed.

Posted by: Dennis at September 15, 2005 8:38 AM
Comment #80604

Aldous,
It’s not the minimum wage that President Bush waived it is the Pervelianling(sp) wages for fedaeral contracts. However, and more important is the fact that the Sec. of Commerce waived Workers ID requirements making it easier for Illegal Aliens to find work and Corporations to hire them without the fear of breaking the Law.

I really must wonder if The Republican party who stance has always been on the side of bussiness interests really understand what they are doing. Yes, I understand that for years they have hated Labor Unions, but the way that they are doing things is destorying the ability of The Consumer to buy the items built by Corporations. Talk about a backward approach to help bussinesses. Cut the Labor cost so that Customers can’t buy your product only leads to going deeper in debt. Maybe the politicans will learn when more and more citizens can’t afford to pay their taxes.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 15, 2005 8:50 AM
Comment #80614

Reed

Ports are not what they used to be. The oil port of New Orleans can be run with less than 100 employees. Most of the boats come and go without anyone even getting off. We donít need a big city where New Orleans sits now. We can still have the cultural parts (French quarter, Garden district etc), which are above sea level. The rest will make a nice nature preserve to benefit all Americans as well as the fish in the Gulf.

The government can compensate the owners of the land affected. That is a good federal role. Our economy is strong and the people who lived there will certainly find work in other places. It was a mistake for them to be living there. Environmentalists always talk about the need for being smart about the earth. This is one of those times.

Aldous

George Bush did not remove the minimum wage requirement for New Orleans. He suspended Davis-Bacon, a law created for racist reasons (to limit black participation in federal projects in the old South). Nobody is legally being paid anything less than minimum wage. We have simply dispensed with some of the bureaucratic mess in order to better clean up a real mess.

Re Halliburton (HAL). I assume you are not an investor or at least you donít care if you make any money on your investments. Why donít you buy Halliburton stock and see how well you do with it. You can get the stock for about $60, which is only worth a couple dollars more than it was when George Bush became president. You would have been better off with Starbucks. Maybe we have blood for double latte.

Posted by: jack at September 15, 2005 10:21 AM
Comment #80616

Jack,
You bring out a very good point that if All Americans could buy stock in Haliburton than why not make money. However, the vast amount of Americans do not have the ability to buy a block of stocks (1,000 Shares) at $60 or $60,000.00 which is needed to make real money. Even if you buy on acceptable margin you are asking most citizens to RISK $48,000.00 or a third of the cost of their home so that they can enjoy in the profits.

Now, compare that to someone who earns only $7.00/hr. and your are asking them to risk 4 years of their gross income just for the Possiblilty of making a dollar. No, if President Bush and Congress as well as the American peolle really want to do what is in the Inherent best interest they would use their Power granted in the Constitution to allow All Americans to Elect to set aside the amount of their Payroll Taxes for the Purchase of U.S. Treasury Notes which will cover the cost to rebuild. Since All Americans working clearly show that they are adding positively to Society than All Americans can reap what must be sowed.

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 15, 2005 10:55 AM
Comment #80640

Henry

Actually my point was just that if you bought 100 shares of Halliburton on the day Bush was elected president, you would have made about only a couple dollars per share. If you just put your money in a good CD, you would have done better. Halliburton over the last ten years has not been a very good investment. The idea that these guys are making piles of money is incorrect on the face of it.

You are also endorsing the President’s personal account. We agree on that. The Dems hate the idea.

Posted by: Jack at September 15, 2005 1:09 PM
Comment #80657

Jack,
My point is that Congress has the ability to sell “Katrina Bonds/Notes” at a level ($20.00) which would allow every American to join innvesting back into the area instead of being taxed. However, just like President Bush failed to rally Americans to buy “Terrorist Bonds” after 9/11 and instead said “Go Shopping” in defense of your nation tells me that he and others in Washington “Just Don’t Get It.” Invest or Tax in your future is a chose that Americans must make, which one do you chose?

Posted by: Henry Schlatman at September 15, 2005 1:46 PM
Comment #80776
I stand with you on your pragmatism and common sense.

David,

The serious danger here is that “pragmatic” may well mean cheap and ugly. Here’s how U.S. News and World Report put it:

New Orleans could become a model of smart planning and coastal protection. Or it could be rebuilt on the cheap, leaving its residents as exposed to the inevitable next hurricane as Bangladeshis clinging to a concrete tower in a monsoon.

It can be done right and well, or it can be done wrong and poorly. I’m afraid, based on what you and jack seem to infer, it will be the latter. And we Americans will get exactly what we deserve: a gateway city that well represents us in the 21st century: a flooded, busted, never rebuilt testimony to a weary, waning nation.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at September 15, 2005 6:56 PM
Comment #80790

Reed

Parts of the town should not be rebuilt at all. I suppose that bringing in some soil and planting some trees is cheaper than building giant mounments to human arrogance in the face of nature.

I am afraid we will piss away a lot of money on this, however. Everyone who counts is behind the rebuilding option. Too bad. It will all be under water again in our lifetimes.

Posted by: Jack at September 15, 2005 7:32 PM
Comment #80870

Reed, you mistake my words. There is a difference between low risk investment in something with high probability of lasting and productive worth. I agree with the linked article you reference. But what good does it do to build a sinking Atlantis that can hold the waters back, a truly great and expensive enginnering feat, if it bankrupts generations to come? Look, if we had been fiscally responsible the last 5 years, we could afford to build bigger and better and do it right. WE can’t afford it now. Or I should say, my daughter’s generation cannot afford it now.

That is why we must rebuild economically - and that means not building where subsidence and rising waters will threaten again, and again, and again. That option is just too expensive, and there are just as safe and far cheaper options available to us.

I do our monthly and annual household budgets. When it is time to consult with my wife and daughter, I am never very popular at budgeting time. But, they love me the rest of the time for all that we do have and do, which we can afford. That is the kind of leadership that is needed now. I don’t see that kind of leadership anywhere in D.C. at this time.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 16, 2005 6:26 AM
Comment #80891
Look, if we had been fiscally responsible the last 5 years, we could afford to build bigger and better and do it right. WE can?t afford it now. Or I should say, my daughter?s generation cannot afford it now.

David,

You’ll get no argument from me that the nation’s fiscal matters are being mismanaged to a devastating degree, a catastrophe that puts the hurricane itself to shame. That’s why we need to reallocate the money in the recently and shamefully passed transportation bill put the money where it’s needed. And there should be a tax to pay for all this today rather than putting it on our kids’ backs. I’m a big advocate of paying as you go except in the most dire of economic circumstances.

Posted by: Reed Sanders at September 16, 2005 9:59 AM
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