Although I’m usually in favor of letting people make their own financial choices (and not being dictated to by the government), I must confess to being uneasy about the Bush plan to give hurricane survivors $2,000 on a debit card. Some of these folks have not handled that much money in their lives.
As people rebuld their homes and lives, I’d like to suggest something radical: Instead of a debit card, give them a hammer. Like a Habitat for Humanity project, let the people who are physically able participate in the construction of their homes. Such an approach might reduce the entitlement mentality that prevails in poor sections of New Orleans (and elsewhere) and increase their sense of dignity. Also, there’s a lot of work to be done, and everyone needs to do his or her part.
Lest you think I’m being a harsh conservative, remember this: FDR used this idea to great effect in the midst of the Great Depression. Remember the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps?