The finest city other people's money will buy
The finest government other people's money will buy
The finest government other people's money will buy, part II
This AP article "On Gulf Coast, Dreams of New Kind of City" illustrates the sole problem of government funding to rebuild New Orleans: that it's at all funded by government, meaning tax dollars coerced from everyone else. A few weeks ago, I read an article about plans to expand certain parts of the city once it's rebuilt, with new buildings and the like. Is that why we're giving so many billions, so that New Orleans can become what it always wished it could be, at everyone else's expense?
While my heart goes out to people who have lost their homes, the lofty plans for the money negates any "charitable" intentions in the federal government taking from most people and giving to a relative few. Need we remember how the federal government gave millions to each of the 9/11 victims' families, which the family members then used for luxury item shopping sprees? And, of course, the $2000 debit cards to Katrina victims, some of which were used on designer handbags and at strip clubs.
Let's figure U.S. GDP in 2006 at a conservative $13 trillion, and the population at 300 million. Let's also say that the initial $62 billion from the federal government (courtesy of the rest of us) in post-Katrina "relief" is spent just on New Orleans. The city's pre-Katrina population was about 1.3 million, so 0.433% of the population will get 0.477% of a year's GDP. I doubt that New Orleans contributes to the American economy to such an extent, but even if it does have that kind of wealth, it should then use its own resources. If it cannot, then like individuals, it should rely on the true charity of others.
Worse, New Orleans has perhaps 200,000 people (maybe less). Even if the population returned to half a million, we're now talking 0.167% of the total U.S. population that uses government to coerce 0.477% of a year's GDP from everyone else (all 99.83% of us). Furthermore, the $62 billion is likely to be just a down payment. Indeed, $250 million was one figure thrown around early on, which would be 1.92% of U.S. GDP in 2006.
Charity is one thing, but it's flatly immoral to rebuild your city at everyone else's expense, just because you feel "entitled" after a natural disaster. Sympathy, and the freedom to judge whether the intended recipient really is worthy and needs how much, are key to effective charitable acts. It is lost, however, on politicians and bureaucrats whose very game is to play with other people's money.