- No doubt Washington will have a big role to play in clearing the debris, rebuilding roads, and helping with other infrastructure. And there will be pressure to establish some sort of victim's compensation fund, over and above the normal disaster relief.
But the American taxpayer shouldn't be asked to rebuild New Orleans as it was. That would be an invitation to another disaster. Nor should American taxpayers be asked to create a "model city," writing blank checks for some Washington planners' sentimental, utopian view of how the Big Easy ought to look physically.
Instead, federal and state authorities should focus on clearing away the barriers that have made it so difficult for any American city to grow in modern times. That would mean setting aside the regulations, taxes, minimum wages, and other burdens that serve mainly to engorge the federal and state bureaucracies. Make New Orleans a tempting place for entrepreneurial activity, able to compete with Houston and other port cities. Then stand back and let New Orleans spring back - if it will.
The truth is that we cannot know what the new New Orleans will look like. That can only be decided by individuals who see opportunity there. Government's role is to reduce the barriers to opportunity, not erect a new city.
Best Hope for New Orleans: Less Government
Thomas Bray offers some interesting thoughts on post-Katrina governance in the New York Sun: