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Dr. Tony Beam Christian Blog and Commentary

Why Money Alone Won't Fix New Orleans

  • Tony Beam
    Dr. Tony Beam's Weblog
  • 2005 Sep 19
  • Comments

Many of President Bush's September 15th proposals resonated with me.  For example, he proposed the creation of a "Gulf Opportunity Zone" which would grant new and existing businesses tax breaks, loans and loan guarantees through 2007.  He also appeared to embrace a form of parental choice in education by suggesting that displaced families would be able to receive federal money to  send their children to private schools, including relgious schools. 

In addition, the president called on Congress to provide property on federal domain free of charge through a lottery system.  Each recepient would have the responsibility building their home by obtaining a mortage or through help from the myriad of chartable organizations that will be involved in the recovery efforts.

Finally, Bush proposed the creation of "worker recovery accounts" which provide up to $5000 for evacuees to use for job training, education, and welfare.

Why all the government sponsored largess?  It seems the president is playing political catchup trying to deflect the mountain of criticism that has caused his approval rating to slide to a historic low.  While more people blame the local government (the governor of Lousiana and the mayor of New Orleans specifically) than blame Bush over Katrina the combined media blitz aganist him along with a spike in gas prices and a soaring death toll in Iraq have hurt the president politically.  While I am sure the president is genuinely concerned with the plight of hundreds of thousands of dispossed people, I am sure that some of his actions and the actions of others in Congress are designed to correct a the mistaken idea that Republicans don't care about some groups of people.

The problem is, money alone thrown at a problem, whether it is a problem in education or the problem of widespread destruction, is never the solution to a problem.  Just ask FEMA or the Red Cross about their ill-fated $2000 debit card idea.  The idea was a good one in principle.  It called for debit cards in the above mentioned amount to be distributed to people who were left with nothing after the storm.  The problem is, the cards strated showing up in popular strip clubs in Atlanta and were used to buy stacks of designer jeans and $600 designer pocketbooks. 

Money without accountability that is handed out with no strings attached will exsarbate the problem rather than solve the problem.  Senator Jim DeMint (R, SC) called for restoring "sanity" to the federal recovery effort.  He went on to say, "We know we need to help, but throwing more and more money without accountablity at this is not going to solve the problem."  To that, I say a resounding amen. 

Let's look at this from a Christian worldview perspective.  In the Old Testament book of Ruth we find the story of Ruth and her stepmother, Naomi.  They suffered the ignomy of dispossession when Ruth's husband and both of her sons died.  A widow with no sons would have been the poorest of the poor and Naomie was forced to leave the land of Judah and journey to Moab in order to find food.  Ruth refused to leave the side of her mother-in-law and according to Ruth chapter 2 she, "went and gleaned in the field