I'm generally of the opinion that the unmitigated disaster that is Hurricane Katrina shouldn't be unnecessarily politicized. But I think the following is more unnecessary; here's conservative economist Jack Chambless last night on Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto (sorry, no link to the transcript; LexisNexis):
JACK CHAMBLESS, ECONOMICS PROFESSOR, VALENCIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE: Well, if we look at Article One, Section Eight of the United States Constitution -- and I encourage all Americans to look at that before we start opening up our tax coffers to pay for all of this -- we have every obligation to provide for New Orleans in terms of charity, private charity from one person to the other.
But the founding fathers never intended, Article One, section Eight of the Constitution, never intended to provide one dollar of taxpayer dollars to pay for any disaster or anything that we might call charity.
By way, here's beginning of Article I, Section 8:
Clause 1: The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
How it is that hurricane disaster relief doesn't count as the "general Welfare" I don't know. But nevermind. Prof. Chambless continues:
What we now have is the law of unintended consequences taking place, where FEMA has come into New Orleans, a place where, ecologically, it makes no sense to have levees keeping the Mississippi River from flooding into New Orleans, like it naturally should.
Now with FEMA bailing out Louisiana, bailing out Florida and lowering the overall cost of living in these places, we have people with no incentive to leave. And the law of unintended consequences means that more people are dying with every one of these storms. They're becoming more and more expensive, more and more property loss, just because the federal government has violated the Constitution to provide for these funds.
OK, let's be clear about this: Chambless is saying that it's the federal government's fault in the first place because, yes, they give out money to help victims of natural disasters. The Katrina disaster can really be blamed on the federal government, he's saying, because they didn't let nature take its course and destroy New Orleans years ago. Because people didn't have enough incentive to leave.
Now, this isn't that big a deal, because I feel sure that almost no one in this country shares Prof. Chambless's fuckwit interpretation of the Constitution. One thing about it interests me, though, which is this part:
But the founding fathers never intended[...]
It's an entirely normative conservative appeal to originalism. Most conservatives who like to go around spouting a 'whatever the founding fathers thought' jurisprudence probably don't realize that it can put them in very uncomfortable positions.
Sounds like a question for Judge Roberts and all who consider themselves principled conservatives to me: do you think FEMA is an unconstitutional entity? Do you think it goes against the wishes of the founding fathers to give money to those who have lost their homes, businesses, all that they own, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina? If so, won't you please go fuck yourself?