*** RYAN TATE: Shocking secrets--revealed! ***





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David Warsh

Dave Winer


Philip Greenspun

Joel Spolsky

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

I'm surprised there hasn't been more discussion of this ever so slightly provocative argument about the Hurricane Katrina situation from Daniel Henninger, deputy editor of the conservative Wall Street Journal Editorial Page. Hen ninger writes:

Perhaps low-lying, self-indulgent New Orleans understood its losing bargain with a devil's fate.

This in and of itself would seem controversial enough. Henninger then proposes a solution to the apparently slow government response:

Give contract authority to organize these resources to a project-management firm like Bechtel.

In short, a key Wall Street Journal editorialist is decrying the limpness of the federal response to the hurricane, and praising the vigor of private companies.

But it is the Wall Street Journal editorial page's fault that the federal disaster response is so limp, Economic Principals argues this week. The context here is that the Wall Street Journal editorial page has for decades pounded the drum for lower taxes on the one hand and less restrictions on business on the other.

Economic Principals publisher David Warsh writes:

Not only is the economy not growing satisfactorily. Not only is the nation less safe than if Bush hadn't bungled the war in Iraq. But now the government is broke and can't afford to fulfill its legitimate and essential functions in a time of disaster. If that's not a conclusive result for a president who has been given the benefit of every doubt, what is?

It is hard for me to convey how provocative Warsh's position is, especially in comparison to Henninger, but his claim is nearly as controversial. He is saying that Hurricane Katrina and the subsequent federal response has laid waste to the brand of supply-side economics -- big tax cuts coupled with big federal spending -- most closely associated with Ronald Reagan and now George W. Bush. Forever. He also baldly states that everyone associated with the W. Bush administration is out of the White House for good after 2008.

I am not commenting on either of these perspectives, but present them side by side. They represent two completely different takes on the same event.

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