Government Spending

What's More Despicable than Scoring Ideological Points Immediately in the Wake of Human Suffering?


Exploiting the same suffering a few weeks later to try to move the entire federal budget to Louisiana a piece at a time.

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….

Vitter and Landrieu did not return calls. But in a news conference Thursday after they unveiled their bill, they described it as an unprecedented response to an unprecedented tragedy, and said that rebuilding their state as quickly as possible would have long-term benefits for the nation. They said their requests were based on recommendations from Louisiana's municipal, spiritual, educational, medical and commercial leaders.

"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."

Corps funding is only part of what Louisiana wants. The 440-page bill also includes $50 billion in open-ended grants for storm-ravaged communities and $13 billion for the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, along with mortgage assistance, health care, substance abuse treatment and other services for hurricane victims. It also includes hefty payments to hospitals, ports, banks, shipbuilders, fishermen and schools, as well as $8 million for alligator farms, $35 million for seafood industry marketing, and $25 million for a sugar-cane research laboratory that had not been completed before Katrina.

What? No money left over the the Pelican State's failed attempt to market nutria flesh as the really other white meat?

Whole Wash Post story here. Given that Lousiana was already pulling down beacoups bucks for levees and the like–and spent it on luxury projects–the answer to this whole proposal should be a polite fuck you.

NEXT: Attn, DC Reasonoids: Confound Laws of Biology, Economics on Wed. 9/28

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  1. Nick, we all know that levees protect the children.

    You don’t hate children, do you, Nick?

  2. Break out the 55 gallon drums of KY Jelly ladies and gentlemen. This one is gonna hurt.

  3. Build new levees around the French Quarter and the Garden District….and leave the rest of the fetid mess to the swamps. Considering the behavior of the local “responsible” political leadership during and after the Submergence; and now their “demand” for $250-billion to rebuils, no-questions-to-be-asked; depopulate NOLA and resettle the evacuees. It will be much cheaper; and it will break the cycle of lying, hypocritical, incompetent Louisiana politicans like Blanco, Nagin, Landrieu, Vitter, Jefferson and Broussard.

  4. I think the rest of us should send a bill to the state govt of Louisiana, as their complete lack of action and decades of non-planning and non-construction of necessary levees resulted in an extremely costly response from the federal govt. I choose to live in Arizona. I don’t send my air conditioning bill to the rest of you.
    Helping out those in emergency situations is a noble thing, and I’m glad the Federal govt was able to do so, but Lousiana politicians can go to hell if they’re going to start raping the treasury and talking about what we owe them.

  5. What do you care what the money was spent on, conservatives? It’s all stolen money, and everything the government does is just wasting money, so what do the details matter?

    Sugar cane research lab, rebuilding the storm drain system – why is one person’s vision of what’s best to do with money extorted from the productive class any better than anyone else’s vision? It’s all, like, just someone’s opinion, man.

  6. Excuse me, Lousiana, fuck you.

    Build it on a rock next time, but don’t expect me to pay for it. Move up hill!

  7. What do you care what the money was spent on, conservatives?

    Conservatives seem perfectly happy to spend money on stuff, and lots of it. They also don’t really care about whether federal money should be spent on things that should fall under one state’s responsibilities, or whether such money might be spent badly.

    Just to be fair to conservatives.

  8. Funny how if a handful of people build in an area prone to flood/famine/tornado/hurricane/fire/biblical-locusts, they don’t get jack nor shit when their lives are destroyed. Yet somehow if you get enough morons into a single area it suddenly becomes the nation’s responsibility to rebuild.

  9. I would rather see federal money spent on this than on the stupid war on some drugs.

  10. When New Orleans was initially built it was above sea level and safe from hurricanes. There are three reasons hurricanes are now so deadly: (1) Cypress logging killing marshland, (2) offshore and in-swamp oil wells allowing salt water into the marshes, (3) the Mississippi levees not allowing freshwater diversion.

    For years we in Louisiana have been trying to use offshore oil taxes (which go to the feds) to change the levee system such that it diverts freshwater and silt into the marshes. Try googling “Coastal Area Reclamation Act” before sounding off on this. This has been our number one priority. However, we have gotten nothing while Florida, which does not allow offshore drilling, got seven billion dollars to repair the everglades.

    Libertarianism does not mean that extraction industries (e.g. logging, oil) have the freedom to utterly destroy the states and nations in which they work. Maybe you don’t like CARA, but it is really astonishing that your libertarian solution to environmental catastrophe caused by extraction industries is to tell the devastated states to ?fuck themselves?. In effect, you are the libertarian equivalent of the 1960?s morons with Mao books, that John Lennon mocked so effectively.

  11. I was under the impression that those areas were pretty much under water long before they started drilling for oil in the gulf.

  12. Hey, Red Stickian:

    So you drain a swamp, cut off its water supply so the sludge compresses to below sea level, and then blame people who build platforms miles out to sea for not giving you money to make up for the original mistake?

    Much of the city is located below sea level between the Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain, so the city is surrounded by levees. Until the early 20th century, construction was largely limited to the slightly higher ground along old natural river levees and bayous, since much of the rest of the land was swampy and subject to frequent flooding.

    Huh. That’s a little different than “above sea level and safe from hurricanes.”

  13. At the end of his enlightening post, Gillespie says:

    Given that Lousiana was already pulling down beacoups bucks for levees and the like–and spent it on luxury projects–the answer to this whole proposal should be a polite fuck you.

    I must take exception with this sentence. I would have italicized fuck you.

  14. we didn’t see this coming a few weeks ago.

    Couldn’t they at least let the leavees dry up before they start rippping the taxpayers a new one?

    Obviously our elected officials believe in the “strike while the iron is hot” 911 or any other media event they all go for the outrageous dollars and guess who always ends up paying..yes, the buck stops the taxpayer’s feet..

    Ok, here’s an interesting question – why in the world are those Gulf Coast refineries STILL located on hurricane prone land? – The oil companies have obviously reaped tremendous profits over the past few there no plan to take them inland at some point?

    Was the cost of that part of the subsidized Energy Bill??

  15. I know many religions voiced that it was “the will of god” that brought the hurricane on. Leaving however the root of LA. debauchery-the french quarter. Does this mean that god wanted to kill 10.000 blacks? Leave it up to nonscensical ‘fundamentalists’ to state such a nonscensical statement.

  16. I had some fundy nutwhack on another forum tell me that he spared the French Quarter, but killed all the people in the other parts of the city as a warning to those in the French Quarter.

    Seriously. I wish I was witty enough to make up something so laughable.

  17. God works in mysterious ways.

  18. Get at the problem at its source. Levy a tax on ad revenues from selling the disaster news coverage audience of soap opera women to advertisers.

    Let entertainment pay for itself for once. Disasters are not free.

  19. Perhaps we trade. You self-aggrandising free thinkers get to tell Lousiana fuck you. Louisiana gets to keep all its offshore and transition-zone resources, control all access to the inland waterways, and when y’all can’t afford refined petroleum and bread, we get to say fuck you right back and charge double tariffs on all that passes through our territory. You can keep you fancy Yankee regulatory schemes and terror-inviting foreign excursions. The independent State of Louisiana doesn’t actually need you.

    Where do I sign?

  20. BA, Taking the refineries inland sounds good until a tornado causes a catastophic leak that can’t be cleansed by the giant gulf, and pollutes the ground water for thousands of square miles.

  21. New Handle, I like your idea, but even you must admit our local officials are incapable of honest governing. All the old requests should be thrown out the window. New thinking, especially about poverty, is the only way to avoid a repeat. The bigger the levee the bigger the smile on Osama’s face when he blows it up.

  22. Once we all get over our collective guilt we can concentrate on building a new homeland for the holocaust survivors.

  23. This should be fun to watch. Lousiana politicians are the New York Yankees of graft, corruption and pork barrell spending.

  24. I love how the reporters describe “$40B” being “tucked into” a $250B bill.

  25. I would have italicized fuck you.

    Glad to see others bugged by typos and misformatting. Further corrected: “Given that Louisiana was already pulling down beaucoup bucks…” (Actually, the French grammar is “beaucoup de (noun)”, but the American Spicoliesque syntax has stuck. The problem is mainly getting Yank Spicolis to spell and pronounce “beaucoup” correctly; that is, not as “bookoo”.)

  26. I would have italicized fuck you.

    OK, I read too fast to catch the irony the first time around. But please try to spell Louisiana correctly. 🙂

  27. I think the word “bookoo” is well enough established in the Southern vernacular to be simply accepted as what it is: viz, a corruption of the original french word. This is particularly apt in Louisiana where corruption seems to be a way of life.

  28. NOLA: Go Fuck Yourself!

  29. Humor! Good deal! Keep it up!
    By the way, have you ever driven on I-10 in South Louisiana? I have many times and I go through FAST. I have NO IDEA why any sane person would choose to live in such a horrible, stinking swamp.

  30. Nick, be careful or Mary Landrieux will punch you!!!

    She’s one tough bitch you know!

    I heard she even killed a hairdresser that got too much bleach in her hair last year.

  31. leaddog2:

    I have it on good authority (the ex-Louisianan in the next cubicle) that the highways in Louisiana, built on muck by contractors chosen for their political connections not their competence, resemble roller-coasters and cannot be driven on “FAST”. Any comments?

  32. They should cut that request to $100 billion because the first $100 billion will go into Louisiana politicians’ off-shore bank accounts and we don’t see why they should become richer than Bill Gates because they screwed up. Who says crime doesn’t pay?

    I’m waiting impatiently for the mayor’s and the governor’s resignations. Is it because they can not decide which crooks should replace them?

  33. Perhaps we trade. You self-aggrandising free thinkers get to tell Lousiana fuck you. Louisiana gets to keep all its offshore and transition-zone resources, control all access to the inland waterways, and when y’all can’t afford refined petroleum and bread, we get to say fuck you right back and charge double tariffs on all that passes through our territory. You can keep you fancy Yankee regulatory schemes and terror-inviting foreign excursions. The independent State of Louisiana doesn’t actually need you.

    How about we nationalize Louisiana instead or just give the territory to Texas to oversee while we make Puerto Rico a state with much less corruption.

  34. All this discussion reminds me of something Sam Kinison said about the drought in northern Africa:


    Just replace “desert” with “hole in the ground” and the comment would be apt.

  35. Las Vegas doesn’t appear to have many problems feeding itself 🙂

  36. Thanks, JT. First really good laugh I’ve had in a week.

  37. As a taxpayer, I’m happy to help foot the bill for the reconstruction of the roads, bridges, and other components of infrastructure that fall under federal jurisdiction. But I’ll be damned if I open my wallet and dump its contents into Louisiana’s coffers with an assurance that it will be “worth it.” It will cost what it costs? I don’t think so. It will cost the feds are responsible for, and no more. The rest is up to the people and businesses that feel like investing there once more. Let the market decide how and if to rebuild.

  38. Minor problem New Handle. What do you do when Mexico sails in and takes over or France renegs. Maybe Mexico or France would sell oil and Tabasco cheaper than you would.

  39. I kind of expected this reaction to the media frenzy of guilt and blame at the beginning. The more I learned about New Orleans, the more I was amazed that anybody would live under such conditions, especially after Hurricane Betsy had already shown them exactly what to expect.

    But I also realized that the people who were stranded there probably never had a choice of where to live or known anything else. I want to rescue them, but not rebuild their homes in that sump.

    I think that people who have a choice but still insist on living in the path of hurricanes, should assume the whole risk of having their houses destroyed and losing everything. No insurance.

    We need the port just as we need the Mississippi, and we need the oil and gas. I have no complaint about rebuilding and reinforcing those. I just don’t think its humane to shelve so many poor and old people in a city where the sewage can’t drain on its own, and where they’re surrounded by walls with water on the other side.

    Giving money to the politicians of Louisiana would be like handing it to a wino with a bag of crack just for fun.

  40. Man, y’all! Ease up.
    First, born in New York (love it) raised in Texas (love it) now live in Louisiana (love it).
    1. Why would anyone WANT to live here?
    The people are incredibly friendly, the food is beyond delicious, when the weather is nice (Oct- April) it is a wonderful place to wander around in, the history is rich and the land, yes including the swamp areas, is gorgeous. Mardi Gras and JazzFest. St. Francisville. Lafayette. Fried Turkey and DriveThru daiquiris. The fishing. Crawfish.
    2. Can’t drive FAST on the highways, based on good authority?…
    Oh please! I-10 is a relatively straight highway with mostly posted speed limits at 70mph. Same with I-55 headed north. Besides, anything over 55mph should be considered FAST. You can drive 65 over Lake Pontchatrian. Damn, slow down and take a look around. {Actually, there are too many times when a driver has no choice but to slow down on I-10 because it’s constantly under construction somewhere, between MS and TX. Having said that, the same is true for the highways (byways really) in Alaska (lived there 5 yrs)
    3. Speaking of Alaska, (and California, Washington, Kansas, Ohio, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, The Carolina, most of New England) you do realize these states have their natural disaster troubles? Earthquakes, hurricanes and tornados rip thru these areas on a regular basis and do tremendous damage that the Govt (you and I) get to pay for rebuilding. Hell, Florida alone has been levelled frequently in the past few years and is being rebuilt at tax-payers expense. But remember that regardless where the money is spent (I didn’t say HOW) the state that is on the receiving end is also paying taxes. Louisiana is a good-sized state and although the damage from Katrina and Rita is along the coastal area, the businesses that haven’t been destroyed are paying taxes and I am working and paying taxes and the people will rebuild and continue to pay taxes. It’s not a total welfare state. We do pull the load….. at the moment the load is rather scattered and tattered but it will return, as will yet another hurricane at some point. But to say we should just go “…. …….” is pointless ………unless we should go deconstruct Galveston and Corpus Christi and Miami, Ft, Lauderdale, Houston, Beaumont, heck the list goes on. Because it’s only a maatter of time before they get throroughly whacked beyond recognition.
    Ease up, don’t go all crazy because a couple of politicians do (I think they’ll be gone shortly anyway) and ask yourself if it was YOUR state representatives going for the gold, would you be so quick to criticize? New Orleans has been around for a long time, longer than most cities in the US, and is getting alittle “cleanup”. These are interesting times. New York City was a cesspool in the mid-80s and good management in the 90s turned it around. But looking at her in 1982, I would’ve thought the Big Apple was rotten to the core and finished.
    Give us a chance. Besides, we do furnish the rest of ya’ll with seafood and fuel and get very little in return for it. Especially the fuel side. Go look up how much Louisiana gets back from the Federal Govt compared to New Mexico. And go look at the ridiculous bridge that Alaska gets to build between two islands at a HUGE cost to the taxpayers and then tell me OUR politicians are exclusively wasteful.

  41. It’s a huge problem that ‘Billion’ and ‘Million’ sound so much alike. They’re both unimaginably large numbers- we really can’t comprehent what a million dollar bills would look like, let alone a billion.

    Perhaps we should refer to the funding demand as $250,000 Million. It adds a little perspective.

  42. I live in SE North Carolina, and in the mid to late 90s we had a spate of hurricans that did alot of damage. None were as bad as Katrina, but the collective weight of them over 5 years with several years of multiple hurricanes in a single season added up. It bothered me at the time that there were some in my state who tried to take advantage of the Fed govt and other assistance, but this Louisiana grab takes the cake.

    Reasonable requests for rebuilding federal interstates, ports, airports, govt buildings and other interstate commerce and national resources is certainly fair, and even some extra beyond that to help out our fellow Americans. But much of this needs to be borne by the people who choose to live and work in the area via local and state dollars, and charitable & corporate contributions.

    I’ll gladly open my purse to you until I get that sense you are trying to take me for a ride. Then I slam it shut and your on your own. Take note my good brothers & sisters in LA, and make sure your reps aren’t trying to take the rest of the country for a ride. Instruct them to be fair and realistic and not greedy and grabby. And make sure your next elections clean out your well documented corruption.

  43. Screw ’em, blue ’em and freakin’ tattoo ’em! Yes, my mother was from LA. My sweet baby sister was born in Shreveport and my worthless half-brother still claims “Alec” as home. But I’m SOOOO SORRY! Blood is NOT thicker than swampwater. All this wailing and gnashing of teeth for bucks to rebuild a sewer hole turns my stomach. Anyone take a look at our Mississippi Gulf Coast?? HELLO!!! THERE AIN’T ONE!! Are we asking for help? Ya damn right! We’d really like to get back to being as close to self-sustaining (casinos and shipping) as we can be just as quickly as possible. Hell, we’d even offer to pay some of it back if it helped the rest of the country after we’re back on our feet. And what you WON’T see is us asking you to help us rebuild anything you wouldn’t ask for yourselves.


    All seriousness aside: Texas and Louisiana have only one thing in common. Drunk-assed corrupt Cajuns shouting AAAHHEEEY and dyslexic cowpukes shouting YEEEHHAAA!
    Well, okay, maybe one other thing: What is the only legitimate reason to travel to either of those states?? To enjoy the sight of both of them going away (55mph or 70…wtf) in your rear-view mirror when you get to leave!

  44. anyplace else and the money would be flowing like a river. yes to oversight and audit.
    some of the things like seafood marketing are legit believe it or not. La produces alot of seafood.

  45. hmmmm, where to start?
    Anyplace: not only seafood but sugar. The vast cane fields south of I-10 were badly hit by H. Rita and I hate to think what the industry will do now. Couple that with the influx of foreign sugar and the deterioration of our processing plants and we may lose that cashcrop forever. It’ll be a while before the oysters will be harvested and alot of fishing vessels were damaged to a heck of a degree, if not totalled.
    We have a huge problem.
    Michael: I agree that when you listen to Vitter and BoomBoomLandrieu it sounds like a laundry-list of nonsense and inflated costs that can’t possibly resemble reality. but you wrote this: “But much of this needs to be borne by the people who choose to live and work in the area via local and state dollars, and charitable & corporate contributions.”
    This is the conundrum. First let me state that we the people who choose to live here DO bear the cost of this choice every day in our taxes. We pay income taxes which may other states don’t. We pay high parish and local taxes on everyting we buy, including FOOD. We pay property taxes & school taxes. We bear the costs at a local level.
    The problem for the politicians is to get the WORKING people who have left, because let’s face it, they have NOTHING left, to RETURN. Now we get people on this thread commenting on why anyone would choose to live here. Well, which is it: “MOVE (but NIMBY) ’cause it ain’t worth living there!” or “go rebuild your own damned hellhole (with no job, no home and no money)….we don’t want to help pay for it!”

    Decisions, decisions. How do we get the people to return, FAST? “S**** em!” or help them.

    And finally Jera: Mississippi is a beautiful state and the drive between Pass Christian and Biloxi was a joy. Even before the rise of the casinos, Mississippi’s charms called people to it. You only had to drive I-10 to see how well the leaders put the Casino money to good use. It will rebuild and I believe quickly. And people from around the country will once again support the gambling industry and tourism. But remember, alot of that past revenue came from Texans and Louisianans coming to the Gold Coast. Your rave reminded me of what the former mayor of Cordova Alaska once had the nerve to state for the record, concerning whether or not to build a (long and very expensive)road to the town or leave it inaccessbile except thru a daily ferry system: We want the tourists to come in, spend their money and get the hell out before nightfall. (paraphrased)

    We have serious problems in Louisiana and as stated in my first post, these are interesting times and I believe we have a chance to get it right this time. Bobby Jindal is (hopefully) an example of a politician who is trying to do it right this time. Let’s watch….. hell, let’s help.

  46. We could just alter the system and instead of having the Feds give money for rebuilding, let the States ask for Federal loan money. The States could ask for an amount but the repayment schedule would remain the same, say 10 – 15 year repayment, and the interest would slide upward if the State needed larger amounts, say Prime Rate for the first 5 billion then Prime = 0.25% for each 5 billion above that (might need a cap as well).

    What would lending money do? States would be a whole lot less likely to “shoot for the Moon” on rebuilding funding requests. States would have to raise taxes at home to help cover these costs and that would be difficult. States would prioritize what needed to be rebuilt as opposed to what they would rebuild if money were no object.

    States would likely limit funding to homeowners who could buy insurance to cover the risk but chose not to. This would create a more active insurance market.

    Fraud would decrease, ok, not in the case of the Big Easy but in most cases. States would watch fraud more dilligently, and would prosecute it.

    Risk would become a factor in where people choose to live. Living right on the coast might be nice but the risk and actual costs might encourage people to live further away. The result would be fewer storm related problems since fewer people would be at the most dangerous point, landfall.

    Yes, I know, it will never happen. The feds love the power that FEMA and such programs bring to them and we will likely never wean them from this power.


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