President Bush got us on the wrong path of favoring place over people when he declared “this great city will rise again.” The Democrats have echoed this sentiment. Barack Obama promises “to rebuild now, stronger than ever.” Hillary Clinton argues that “rebuilding New Orleans is not a local obligation, it is an American obligation.”
Wrong. Federal policy does not have an obligation to see that cities rise again — not Buffalo, not Detroit, not New Orleans. Federal policy has an obligation to see that the people of America enjoy as much freedom and opportunity as possible. Federal attempts to rebuild declining cities areas are quixotic, inefficient, and unlikely to help the poor. Spending billions on light rail in New Orleans or upstate New York may make for good stump speeches, but the people of these regions would be better off if they were given cash or fully portable housing vouchers rather than boondoggle projects.
I'll be in New Orleans next month for a wedding and of course I'll try not to mention this.