Send dollars, and include the tax code as kindling

More federal response to Hurricane Katrina. Consider:

Democratic lawmakers are urging the Bush administration to increase funding for a $2 billion energy program to help the poor pay heating bills expected to increase about 47 percent this winter.

The energy assistance program helps low-income families, primarily the elderly and disabled, pay utility bills – about one-third of the total bill, on average. The money is disbursed through block grants to the states.

I don’t know much about this, but here’s a suggestion: let the states determine their needs and tax their citizens accordingly (with their consent through representation, of course). It’s brilliant! Maybe I can win $100,000.

But without federal intervention, millions will freeze to death this winter. You know, because stuff like this never happens anywhere else in America without federal intervention:

Stephen Nocilla, director of Catholic Social Services in Scranton, Pa., said he’s worried about the impact of higher energy prices on poor families in Northeast Pennsylvania. He’s making plans with local officials to open up more emergency shelters this winter.

“This is a life-and-death situation,” Nocilla said. “People are going to have to make some very difficult choices.”

If people like Senator Kerry and others care so much about helping poor families heat their homes this winter, and in the future, wouldn’t it make more sense to allow states and localities to determine who needs help? If nothing else, sending the money from taxpayer to state/local government to needy families/utilities is more efficient than sending the money from taxpayer to IRS to Department of Energy to State/local government to needy families/utilities. That would heat the same number of homes for fewer dollars. I’m just saying, I think our founding fathers were on to something.

Post Script: Like the last entry, this in no way endorses the idea that government intervention is the best way to handle this essential task. It may or may not be, and given the very real possibility of a significant number of deaths in colder areas, there is a benefit potentially sufficient to justify it. But if government should pay, which government is the question. But you figured that out already, so no more disclaimer stuff.

I take from the Rich, I give to the middle class… Well, the upper middle class.

President Bush spoke in Louisiana yesterday and made a couple of interesting remarks about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. First, consider this:

In response to the government’s initially slow response to Hurricane Katrina, Bush said, “If I didn’t respond well enough, I’m going to learn the lessons.” The federal government’s response to the second huge storm to slam the area, Rita, has gotten better reviews.

“The story will unfold. I mean, the facts of the story will come out over time, and the important thing is for federal, state and local governments to adjust and to respond,” Bush said.

I’m only going to pick on that for a moment, long enough to point out that “if I didn’t…” seems like a nice way of saying “my critics are wrong.” That may be the case, but it would’ve been easy enough to leave that part out and just say what he said in the last line above. Admittedly, I don’t know the specific question, but it just seems ludicrous. Otherwise, his response was fine. (And Democrats need to stop the useless insinuation that he’s only going to Louisiana and Mississippi for political gain. Maybe, but he’s still the president.)

Moving along, here’s the other quote from President Bush:

“I don’t think Washington ought to dictate to New Orleans how to rebuild,” he said. Bush said he had told New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin that “we will support the plan that you develop.”

I agree that the federal government shouldn’t dictate how New Orleans rebuilds, but wouldn’t it make sense, using that logic, that perhaps the federal government shouldn’t fund it, either? Since we don’t believe in that form of federalism and personal responsibility any more, I want the federal government dictating the terms. I don’t live in Lousiana or Mississippi, but the residents and businesses of those states will use some of my money to rebuild. I don’t want them wasting my money making the same mistakes that compounded the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. Dictate the terms or don’t spend the money. It’s simple.

Post Script: This in no way constitutes an endorsement of the current administration’s theory on federalism and fiscal policy. I merely expect accountability with how the federal government throws my money (and yours) around for rebuilding purposes.