2005 September 16 Friday
Bush Continues Drunken Spender Bender With Gulf Coast Great Society

George W. Bush has a song he's singing to the Democrats: "Anything you can spend I can spend bigger, I can spend anything bigger than you".

Although Bush cited no price tag, he committed the nation to a plan that officials and lawmakers believe could top $200 billion, roughly the cost of the Iraq war and reconstruction, and which promises to reorient government for the balance of the Bush presidency. It will create much larger deficits in the short term, siphon off money that would have been spent on other programs and dramatically shift the focus of the White House, Congress and many state governments for the indefinite future.

Even as he embraced a spending program the scale of which few Democratic presidents ever advanced, Bush signaled that he would shape its contours with policy ideas long sought by conservative thinkers. He proposed creation of a "Gulf Opportunity Zone" that would grant new and existing businesses tax breaks, loans and loan guarantees through 2007. And in documents released before the speech, Bush called for displaced families that send children to private schools, including religious ones, to be eligible for federal money.

Why give people tax breaks to resettle an area that Mother Nature rather forcefully just demonstrated isn't appropriate for large scale human habitation? People should be discouraged from returning and rebuilding in areas wiped out by storm surges. Governments should impose tough building codes and governments should construct their own buildings on high ground and out of extremely tough materials.

Most of those evacuated from New Orleans have more sense than the President and do not want to return.

HOUSTON, Sept. 15 -- Fewer than half of all New Orleans evacuees living in emergency shelters here said they will move back home, while two-thirds of those who want to relocate planned to settle permanently in the Houston area, according to a survey by The Washington Post, the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health.


Forty-three percent of these evacuees planned to return to New Orleans, the survey found. But just as many -- 44 percent -- said they will settle somewhere else, while the remainder were unsure. Many of those who were planning to return said they will be looking to buy or rent somewhere other than where they lived. Overall, only one in four said they plan to move back into their old homes, the poll found.

Also, isn't it not just unwise but also cruel to help people of such meager means and meager abilities to return to a place which is in harm's way?

According to the poll, six in 10 evacuees had family incomes of less than $20,000 last year. Half have children younger than 18. One in eight was unemployed when the storm hit. Seven in 10 said they have no insurance to cover their losses. Fully half have no health insurance. Four in 10 suffer from heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or are physically disabled.

When illness or injury strike, they were twice as likely to say they had sought care from hospitals such as the New Orleans Charity Hospital than from either a family doctor or health clinic -- needs for costly services that now will be transferred to hospitals in the Houston area or wherever these evacuees eventually settle.

Some fiscal conservatives still exist in Congress.

One fiscal conservative, Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, said Thursday, "I don't believe that everything that should happen in Louisiana should be paid for by the rest of the country. I believe there are certain responsibilities that are due the people of Louisiana."

Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, called for restoring "sanity" to federal participation in the recovery, which is at $62 billion and rising fast. The House and Senate approved tax relief Thursday at an estimated cost of more than $5 billion on top of $3.5 billion in housing vouchers approved by the Senate on Wednesday.

"We know we need to help, but throwing more and more money without accountability at this is not going to solve the problem," Mr. DeMint said.

Their comments were in marked contrast to the administration approach thus far and a call by Senate Republican leaders for a rebuilding effort similar to the Marshall Plan after World War II. Congressional Democrats advocated their own comprehensive recovery program Thursday, promoting a combination of rebuilding programs coupled with housing, health care, agriculture and education initiatives.

Their comments are in marked contrast to the administration because Bush is a faux conservative.

What we need is an "Endangered Fiscal Conservative Species Act".

The federal government plans to build temporary communities of prefabricated housing.

The settlements would range from 2,000 to 25,000 units _ mostly prefabricated houses and mobile homes _ arranged in loose street grids. They will ideally be placed within a short drive of pre- existing shopping centers, grocery stores and gas stations to make life easier for evacuees.

Note that the middle and upper classes will mostly make their own housing arrangements and will avoid these temporary cities like the plague. Each community that gets one of these temporary cities will need a lot more police to handle a high crime population. But with effective policing and aggressive prosecution the crime rate of New Orleans refugees could be lowered well below the rate at which they committed crimes in poorly policed New Orleans.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2005 September 16 12:21 PM  Politics Money

KevinM said at September 16, 2005 1:31 PM:

Entire cities of mobile homes on the gulf coast? The buildings destroyed weren't flimsy enough, so we're replacing them with structures that can't even withstand a tropical storm?

Katrina was a tragedy, but this is a farce.

Marvin said at September 16, 2005 1:40 PM:

This is a fascinating approach to hurricane-proof building. This style of house and structure seems to be able to withstand tornadoes, hurricanes, just about anything the weather can throw at it. You can even bury these structures underground. Their shape will withstand a tremendous amount of weight and other stresses. I shudder not only at the idea of mobile homes along the coast, but traditional stick-built homes as well. Building construction technology can do much better than what the developers and politically connected cronies will be putting in down there. Follow the link and read about the structures that survived direct hits by tornadoes and hurricanes. In Katrina, a Dupont Corp dome housed 30 employees throughout the worst of the storm. All the other Dow buildings were damaged or demolished. Read the other stories of Katrina survivors and their monolithic domes. It is definitely time for a wakeup call in the hurricane zone.

noone said at September 16, 2005 3:58 PM:

"two-thirds of those who want to relocate planned to settle permanently in the Houston area"


We've already had one riot involvimng students AND parents at one school here.

Hugh Angell said at September 16, 2005 4:12 PM:

Watching and listening to Bush last night it occured to me that he is more a Christian
than a conservative or even a politician. It was a fine sermon he gave but no one elected
him to be the nation's minister in chief nor is handing out other people's money the
definition of Christian charity.

It may make President Bush 'feel better' about himself by giving members of the underclass
$2000 debit cards for them to buy whatever their fancy desires but I'm sure it makes the
retail clerk at some Houston mall want to throw up when some grinning 'refugee' from New
Orleans waltzs up to the counter with a $800 Louis Vuitton handbag and proffers her
FEMA card as payment. Reminds me of the days when I would be in the checkout line with a
can of tunafish and some bread for my dinner only to have to watch as some welfare queen
paid for her prime rib with Food Stamps.

If the American public wants to help they can. There is no shortage of fundraising going on
to assist the hurricanes victims. What is raised is the true measure of this nation's
generosity. What the government needs to do is repair the roads, bridges and other
infrastructure so private donations can reach those in need and the recovery can begin.
If some church in Duluth wants to raise money for a mobile home to house a Louisiana family
I commend them. If the government stayed out of it I might even be tempted to donate myself
but I am not going to donate if it simply is to put whipped cream on the ice cream the
government is already providing disaster victims.

Bob Badour said at September 16, 2005 6:22 PM:

Um, did I understand that correctly? Evacuees, whose homes subsiding below sea level in mud, who were not surprisingly flooded out are going to move to mobile homes in Texas?

Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.

Zach said at September 17, 2005 2:08 PM:

I think Coburn is right on the money on this. It's sad what has happened to NO, it is not my problem to pay for. Isn't this what God invented insurance for?

AMac said at September 18, 2005 2:44 AM:

The WaPo article quoted at the top of the post offers an estimated price tag of $200 billion for the (federal?) government's share of Bush's plan. In the quoted NYT article ("Some fiscal conservatives...), expenditures to date are estimated as "$62 billion and rising fast."

So we've already disbursed a third of Plan Katrina's funding. I guess that means the reconstruction is already one-third complete, hooray.

Re. cities of prefab houses: Last week, I heard an interview on the local weepy-left NPR affiliate, the host talking to a UN disaster-response person. The usual multiculti claptrap from both parties. Then UN lady made a point that makes me shudder in retrospect. That her agency learned in Bosnia and other places not to offer prebuilt housing to families, but instead to transport and subsidize building materials. That way, displaced persons can build homes that seem right to them. Through the necessary expenditure of sweat equity, they come to feel that they are the homes' owners. From this comes the tendency to take responsibility for their care and upkeep. Refugees' investment in their property leads to investment in their new community. By contrast, her experience with prefab houses was that refugees move in, trash them, and move on.

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Marvin said at September 18, 2005 8:28 AM:

Has anyone checked out the monolithic dome website I linked to above and again here? These domes have survived Katrina intact, and several other hurricanes as well as direct tornado hits. They could probably survive a category 6 (?) hurricane. Wind stress is obviously different from storm surge, but these domes could be built in ways to put them above the storm surge, providing dependable shelters for people stuck in a hurricane.

They build churches using this technology, they build houses, resort cabins, storage warehouse facilities. Why not build such a structure at neighborhood schools for gyms, cafeterias, assemblies, etc, in areas within the storm zones? Emergency personnel could take shelter during the worst of the storm, then immediately go back into the cities to provide immediate rescue and recovery?

It's time to think seriously about this, and to start using what works.

Bob Badour said at September 18, 2005 10:55 AM:

Yes Marvin, I did check it out. It looked pretty cool if a little strange too. I especially liked the idea of the fabrication shop with the pole crane. Can you imagine the antics at Orange County Chopper if they had one of those?

From what I gather, the church in Biloxi lost some or all of its insulation but remained structurally sound.

Bob Badour said at September 18, 2005 6:47 PM:

Hmmmm... I wonder if the church is the round building in this picture?

If so, scrolling 'down' a little further 'east' shows what kind of destruction was nearby.

Bulldog said at September 19, 2005 4:53 AM:

Man those domes are wild! If I read it right, what the church in Biloxi lost wasn't the insulation. It lost its airform, the original inflatable support that eventually wears away normally. From the way I read the construction methods, they can put most any type of water impervious coating over the 'crete to maintain weather resistance. Bob, I'm gonna take a wild guess and say if the round structure is one of these domes, it's probably the dome at the chemical plant where some workers waited out the storm safely.

Ned said at September 19, 2005 5:43 AM:

Many of us on the right are extremely unhappy with this Administration. First the Iraq war, then the tidal wave of illegal immigration, now massive new government spending programs. Somewhere LBJ must be smiling. W is as big a disappointment as his old man was. Actually, the best small government president in recent memory was Bill Clinton during his second term. The Republicans who controlled Congress hated him so much that they wouldn't approve anything he proposed. The result? Federal spending levelled off, the deficit disappeared, and the economy boomed. The first legislative item in the 1994 House Republicans' "Contract with America" was a bill to control Federal spending and reduce taxes (http://www.house.gov/house/Contract/CONTRACT.html). Those days seem like ancient history now. Bush is doing such a lousy job that the Democrats are likely to win in 2008. I hope they pick Hillary. Then, if the Republicans keep control of Congress, we will get back to some fiscal sanity again.

Randall Parker said at September 19, 2005 9:04 AM:

BTW, my brother plans to build a dome house as a vacation house (he lives in Florida already but wants to build another house out a sparsely populated area near a park). He has shown me lots of cost data and drawings.

But keep in mind that storm surge probably wrecked more houses than the wind did. The problem is that the wood warps and has to be replaced.

Here's what I want to know: Can flood survivable structures be built with today's materials?

1) How much more expensive is cinderblock than wood for building houses?

2) What is the "R" insulation rating of cinderblock?

3) Can insulation withstand flooding?

4) What sorts of wall, floor, and cabinet panelling materials can withstand flooding?

5) Is the coated airtight drywall material (not the standard drywall) also waterproof?

6) Can wood frame material be coated to be waterproof? If so, would termites eventually eat thru the coating and ruin the airtightness?

I figure for windows one can use aluminum frames. So if the windows are covered during the storm and do not shatter they will be okay afterwards.

Bulldog said at September 19, 2005 12:22 PM:

The only insulation I know that withstands soaking is the solid foam insulation, the closed cell type. Cinderblock has little insulation value, you need to add insulation to it. They do have foam blocks you can fill with concrete, you might check them out. If the area he's putting the house in is going to flood a lot, he might consider buying a surplus submarine. Honestly they don't build houses for underwater use.

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