The Welfare Here-Welfare There State

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There are two excellent articles in the current American Conservative which I am delighted to see they put online. The cover article Money for Nothing by Philip Giraldi names names and dollar figures for the phenomenally corrupt and incompetent cash give away that has been going on in Iraq. Here’s a quick detail from the article that shows Soviet style planning in action: “In another operation, KBR [Kellogg, Brown and Root] purchased fleets of Mercedes trucks at $85,000 each to re-supply U.S. troops. The trucks carried no spare parts or even extra tires for the grueling high-speed run across the Kuwaiti and Iraqi deserts. When the trucks broke down on the highway, they were abandoned and destroyed rather than repaired.”

W. James Antle III covers the “welfare here” side of things with an article on Katrina relief. I quote a slightly lengthy passage that drives home the point Lew made years ago about vouchers (and other fake privatization schemes)… They’re just another form of gov’t spending:

So far, the Bush administration has tried to stake out a middle position in the Republican split, endorsing the idea of cutting wasteful spending to fund hurricane relief while offering little in the way of specific cuts. The White House has tried to appeal to conservatives by filling its reconstruction proposals with Jack Kemp’s greatest hits.

Bush would give education and housing vouchers to displaced residents, create a Gulf Coast Opportunity Zone that offers tax incentives for investment in the damaged region, and parcel out federal land in hard-hit areas to those in need of homes. The $2,000 debit cards have been abandoned in favor of $5,000 personal unemployment accounts. The administration’s first round of tax breaks for Gulf Coast employers, totaling $6.1 billion, unanimously passed both houses of Congress.

But this conservative policy-wonk wish list will be accompanied by traditional government spending on infrastructure and social welfare. The speed with which Congress has passed relief legislation increases the likelihood of waste. And using vouchers as the mechanism for transmitting benefits doesn’t erase the price tag.

7:25 pm on October 16, 2005