23 June 2006

Your Great Society Sequel Will Have to Wait Out in the Hall

Here's an interesting and timely read, as not only hurricane season spools up again, but hurricane blame season is surely not far behind.
Houston wouldn’t be the setting for this unprecedented experiment if it hadn’t risen to the occasion as no other government—federal, state, or local—did after Katrina. How did it mobilize so quickly?

A social-services expert might think that, being such a small-government town, it would have been overwhelmed by the influx: recently branded one of America’s “meanest cities” by a homeless-advocacy group, Houston spent less than $1,500 per person in city funds last year, compared with New York’s $5,000. It has one public-sector worker to serve every 130 citizens, compared with one for every 22 in New York. About 6 percent of New Yorkers live in public housing; less than 1 percent of Houstonians do. Houston has no income tax, and nearly everyone you meet there boasts that the city is a “business city” with “business interests.”

But that’s no measure of Houston’s generosity. All it proves is that Houston never entwined its budget with radical entitlement politics in the sixties and seventies. Yet when Houston saw a crisis of humanity, it acted.
It's a long read, but that's how you learn; by reading everything you can.

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