Friday, 7 October 2005

Freedom for New Orleans

There's been a ton of pressure for the US Federal Government to move heaven and earth and the contents of Fort Knox to rebuild New Orleans, and in such circumstances Government’s are always willing to oblige. Pony up they have, to the tune of $62 billion and counting -- as one commentator has noted, at this level of 'emergency funding' "the aid effort is likely to result in the largest transfer of government funds into private hands in American history." Bad news then.

There are of course good economic and geographic reasons to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, reasons so good in fact that investors should themselves be able to see the value in rebuilding. But why does rebuilding need to involve taxpayers ponying up $62 billion, I wondered to myself.

Why not, I thought, take the artifical hurdles out of the way of private investment and declare New Orleans, Biloxi, and the entire Gulf Coast as Enterpise Zones, wherein all businesses and those investing in them are exempt from tax and from all but the very lightest of regulation. As I thought, I read, and as it turned out the idea has already been floated ... by George Bush, and by John Stossel.

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