Saturday, October 8, 2005


Tech Central Station's Veronique de Rugy has a good article on the ridiculous request of $250 billion by the state's lawmakers to Congress. This is what happens when you put together some very stupid people for a proposal of such importance. Whether in government, corporate, or nonprofit arenas, I've seen this occur a few times in my short lifetime. One memory comes to mind when I was an observer to the negotiations between one of the largest labor unions in a U.S. state and a major city. The union leaders were dealing with the welfare of their 10,000+ members and they were throwing out arbitrary numbers for their negotiations with the city labor relations manager.

"We'll start at X dollars for a base salary increase... X amount of hours for sick days..."

I remember almost busting out laughing during a couple meetings because there was no basis for these numbers and no analysis done beforehand. It seems the lawmakers in Louisiana went through a similar exercise.

"Congressman Shmoe, how much do you want for that bridge in your city?"

"$20 million."

"Ok. $20 million is a good number. We'll put that down... Now what about that new court house?"

"... Now, let's add this all up. $250 billion? Hmmm... that seems like a good number. They'll negotiate and knock us down to about $100 billion, but we'll all come out good now."

Anyway, here's an excerpt from de Rugy's article:

Louisiana lawmakers have come up with a request for $250 billion in federal reconstruction funds for Louisiana alone. That's more than $50,000 per person in the state. This money would come on top of the $62.3 billion that Congress has already appropriated for emergency relief and on top of payouts from businesses, national charities and insurers.

According to Senator Mary Landrieu (D, LA), author of the Louisiana bill, "Louisiana will be rebuilt by Louisianans. New Orleans will be rebuilt by New Orleans. And the Southern Louisiana will be rebuilt under the leadership of the people who call it home." Yet, the bill waves the normal cost-sharing requirements to shift the entire cost to the federal government. In other words, Ms Landrieu is expecting federal taxpayers to foot 100 percent of the bill.

We are talking about a lot of money here. The $250 billion will cost $1,900 per American household. (This ignores the progressivity of the income tax which will make it much worse for some than others.)

That being said, I thought it would be informative to know what we are asked to pay for. A not so quick read of the 440 page bill soon demonstrated that the Louisiana lawmakers stuffed it with everything they could think of including many items having nothing to do with hurricane relief. The items include:

-$35,000,000 for the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board
-$8,000,000 for direct financial assistance to alligator farmers
-$12,000,000 for the restoration of wildlife management areas
-$25,490,073 to complete the Sugarcane Research Laboratory
(full article)

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