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September 22, 2005

Anyone wondering where the federal government is going to get the money to pay for relief and reconstruction in the wake of Hurricane Katrina -- and now, so it appears, Hurricane Rita -- would do well to take a look at the weekend navy moored in the nearest marina. ... or the luxury cars crowding the freeway. ... or the number of folks willing to pay top dollar to see obscenely-paid entertainers or athletes perform.

This is a wealthy country with little compunction about spending on extravagances.

There is no legitimate reason to run up the already too large deficit and national debt borrowing from foreign sources and saddling our children and grandchildren with the burden of paying for what is our immediate obligation. The hurricanes did not strike just the Gulf Coast; they struck America.

The response in the way of voluntary contributions of both money and service tells us that the majority of Americans recognize that. Generosity knows no bounds when it comes to providing for someone in dire straits. But private charity cannot do it all or even most of it. As we learned during the Depression years, government must step in if the relief effort is to succeed.

Granted, political reality rules out any serious effort to implement the proposals being tossed about in Congress. Rescinding the tax cut, postponing programs or trimming the budget won't work. It would take more than the most severe natural disaster ever to dissuade the interests that would be directly affected.

There is precedent, however, for enacting a temporary surtax on both personal and corporate income tax. It was done in the early days of our involvement in Vietnam when President Johnson sought both guns and butter. The cause now is more clearly defined and supported by the American people. A surtax applied to incomes in the second half of this year and all of 2006 would probably suffice. Especially if it could be levied on incomes before they are squeezed through the loopholes, it would result in everyone paying a share proportionate to their means.

  The most benign side effect of the disaster is that it has brought to the fore the plight of the poor. Hopefully, the jolt of seeing the impact on what mostly has been an invisible underclass will be lasting enough that a real effort to change conditions will follow. In many respects, the storm or storms will have started a genuine 'war on poverty' not unlike the racial civil rights revolution touched off by the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King and the urban riots that followed. CLICK HERE to read the Washington Post's take on the topic.

  Here in New Castle County one can only hope that the focus will not be on the plight of one refugee family -- albeit one which can rightfully claim to have been misplaced in temporary housing -- and away from the cooperative effort initiated by county government and supported by a host of organizations and individuals to aid Katrina victims. CLICK HERE to read the Delaforum article reporting on the effort in its full context

If there is blame to be placed, it rightly belongs on a system that allows sex crime perpetrators with alleged proclivity to repeat to settle in residential neighborhoods. True, it was ill-advised to put a family already suffering loss into such a situation. But it also is true that other families living in the neighborhood are equally endangered.

  With the war in Iraq all but crowded out of the news by the storms, you may not have noticed that the toll of American military killed has passed the 1,900 mark. CLICK HERE to see their faces.

  Any resident willing to commit to attending  a series of 10 monthly meetings can have a direct voice in setting the parameters for  the future of New Castle County.  MORE


2005. All rights reserved.

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