Capitalism is the key to New Orleans

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

As a Mardi Gras veteran and Jazz Fest lover, as well as a friend to many of those who call the region home, I feel for the city of New Orleans. The responsibility falls onto the citizens of these United States to rebuild this city with its rich heritage. However, merely throwing money at the problem will not suffice this time around. The floodwaters in New Orleans seem to have washed the city?s dirty little secrets out into the open. No longer can the failed infrastructure of a welfare state operate unsuccessfully without attentions being paid.

The AP reports that ?fewer than half of the Hurricane Katrina evacuees living in shelters in the Houston area want to go home again, according to a poll by The Washington Post and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.? This is a reflection of the lack of opportunity and equity within the city limits.

If one had taken early media reports for gospel, the doom and gloom picture painted of New Orleans would have been overwhelming. The facts are that the New Orleans revival is way ahead of even the most optimistic estimates. Business owners are being allowed back into the city to begin preparations for reopening. Mayor Nagin is urging 180,000 residents to return to certain areas of the city. Gone are the estimates of 10,000 dead, now replaced with the reality of the latest body count of 579. The Army Corps of Engineers said water is getting pumped out of eastern New Orleans more quickly than ever expected and that the area should be dry by the end of the month. Does this sound like the New Orleans that was going to be closed for a year?

Ignore the statements being made by pundits and obtuse ultra-leftist bloggers. As she lines her pocketbook with cash from her new deal with Speaking Matters LLC, Cindy Sheehan belches, ?George Bush needs to stop talking..., pull our troops out of occupied New Orleans and Iraq, and excuse his self from power.?

Intelligent people scoff at these suggestions, as such actions would harm the rebuilding efforts. Pundits like Sheehan and Curtis Muhammad, the organizing director of CLU (Community Labor United), fuel absurdities with allegations that ?the moral values of our government [are] to ?shoot to kill? hungry, thirsty black hurricane survivors for trying to live through the aftermath.? Curtis thinks, ?This has turned a natural disaster into a man-made disaster, fueled by racism.? Allegations of a George Bush hurricane machine ? one he fires up to target black people in major cities ? cannot be far behind.

According to the fringe left, the reason New Orleans rescue efforts are so ?awful? is because the city has a large minority population. The rush to politicize and the invocation of racism are standard DNC playbook material.

Less than 24 hours after Katrina hit and the levees broke, fingers were pointed instead of sandbags being lifted. The bias was obvious; watching ABC?s coverage implode was spectacular. The reporter, Reynolds, picked out three black female evacuees (one of the lowest Bush voting demographics) and probed them with leading questions. One instance had Reynolds asking, ?Was there anything that you found hard to believe? [Anything] that he said that you thought, ?Well, that?s nice rhetoric, but, you know, the proof is in the pudding???? Questions like these are the mainstay of the media in post-Katrina coverage. Unfortunately for the networks, citizens expressed their anger with local management and expressed hope in the federal rebuilding process. When asked, ?Did you harbor any anger toward the president because of the slow federal response?? Connie London replied, ?None whatsoever, because I feel like our city and our state government should have been there.... They should have been on their jobs.? Connie is correct. New Orleans has let its poorer people down for 60 years, but in Katrina?s wake, new hope emerges.

When the American taxpayers rebuild this city, it must be done without waste. The cleaning must begin within the city?s own infrastructure. Local officials such as those in Louisiana?s emergency planning agency ? officials currently awaiting trial over up to $60 million in ?unaccounted-for? federal emergency management funds ? must be terminated. Bloated bureaucracy and failed entitlement programs will now be replaced with the hope and opportunity that accompanies economic development.

Government handouts should be replaced by new enterprise zones. Opportunity and paychecks must replace misery and welfare checks. The waters that washed through New Orleans pushed decades of failed liberal entitlement policies into the limelight. The opportunity has now come to build a stronger, more equitable New Orleans: a New Orleans based on capitalism, not entitlement.