12 September 2005

Jack Kemp, New Deal advocate

Talking about the "golden opportunity" afforded by Katrina, Jack Kemp says:
Out of the tragedies of the U.S. Civil War and World War II, Presidents Lincoln and Roosevelt imagined an unimaginable future. They created transformative programs that helped define the American dream of ownership and economic empowerment. Lincoln's Homesteading Act empowered people with title to 160 acres of land, free, and Roosevelt's Federal Housing Authority and GI Bill of Rights offered ways for capital-less people to own a house and to receive higher education.
Sounds like he's advocating a massive government giveaway program to help build a just, more equitable South, doesn't it?

Yeah, right:
As we think about the government's role in assisting people get back on their feet after Katrina, we should be thinking about how to expand private property rights, business ownership and create rational incentives to build a new Gulf Coast and Delta Region unencumbered by bureaucratic rules and strictures. We have an enormous opportunity to replace outmoded government programs and bureaucracies with public-private partnerships and new private institutions that are built upon the foundation of individual ownership, private property rights, personal responsibility and social justice that an ownership society brings.
I would bet that he's not talking about protecting the rights of the poor to the shacks in which they live and which, in many cases, own. This all sounds like code for getting rid of environmental regulation entirely.

What he doesn't seem to realize is that the EPA was formed precisely because many people do not take personal responsibility and social justice seriously. And sure, that applies to the poor as well as the rich, but a refinery owner has much larger potential impact on the environment than a panhandler with nowhere but an alley in which to pee.

He goes on to advocate eliminating the estate tax in the affected areas, which would have no effect, since the very few rich people who are affected by this tax aren't the ones who were hurt by the disaster. In fact, he hits all of the anti-tax high points: capital gains taxes (how many of the poor are affected by this?), income tax, and business's share of the Social Security tax.

The one place where he's advocating doing something for the poor is in giving them school and housing vouchers "to make a down payment on a house anywhere in the country". You see, conservatives actually like New Orleans. As Bush said, it's a great place to party. It's just that they would like it a whole lot better if it those impoverished blacks who vote for Democrats lived somewhere else.

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