The Wall Street Journal reports that the Republicans in Washington, D.C., see the hurricane disaster in Louisiana as an excellent opportunity to spread free market principles into this erstwhile den of failed families and big government and so on. The idea, according to Representative Todd Tiahrt (R., Kan.), is to lower the costs of doing business! This raises the profits of the entrepreneurs, natch.
How much all this helps the people in the area, including the workers these businesses might hire, isn't quite so clear. Or perhaps not just very relevant. After all, Bush's executive order allows the contractors to pay less than prevailing wages in the disaster areas (do I hear the trucks bringing immigrant workers already?). And the following extra steps to lower the costs of doing business are being percolated right now:
Now, Republicans are working on legislation that would limit victims' right to sue, offer vouchers for displaced school children, lift some environment restrictions on new refineries and create tax-advantaged enterprise zones to maximize private-sector participation in recovery and reconstruction. Yesterday, the House overwhelmingly passed a bill that would offer sweeping protection against lawsuits to any person or organization that helps Katrina victims without compensation.
Note the attempt to make the disaster area into one where environmental causes matter not at all (especially upsetting considering the role of wetlands destruction in exacerbating the hurricane's effects and the current high rates of toxic substances in the remaining floodwaters). And note the tax advantages offered to the same firms who already enjoy lower wages and now needn't worry about any polluting costs, either.
This is a big division of the spoils after one of the largest natural disasters to strike this country. You can bet anything that those benefiting will be good ole Republican boys and that they will remember the fat wallets they earned when the next election time rolls around. At least some of this money will return to the Republican party. This is what we are paying taxes for, under a one-party government.
A big division of the spoils, yes, but also a wonderful opportunity for the Republican party to make Louisiana into a wingnut state. If only all those who voted for Democrats (the poor black people) could be kept from returning! If enough money could be poured into the right pockets to guarantee more votes in return! Wouldn't it be paradoxical if the greatest leadership blunder of our George actually resulted in such rewards!
As I read this WSJ article I realized that I should be reborn as an oil company. I would get much more attention from the government. I could even pretty much dictate which laws I want to micromanage, and my wishlist would at least appear for discussion in the Congress:
The National Petrochemical & Refineries Association would like lawmakers to reduce the depreciation period from 10 years to five years in order to stimulate investment. Some refineries are talking about reviving an effort to get liability protection for producing the fuel additive methyl tertiary butyl ether, or MTBE. Both were dropped from the earlier energy bill at the insistence of Democrats.
Thanks to kg for the link.