Louisiana residents gave churches higher marks than government agencies in responding to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and most prefer that the federal government control rebuilding funds rather than local officials, according to a Louisiana State University study.Sadly, the same residents also draw the wrong lesson about federalism:
On a scale of one (not effective) to 10 (very effective), residents gave churches the highest mark of 8.1, and New Orleans city agencies and state agencies received the lowest rating of 4.6.
The majority of Louisianans, 54 percent, said the federal government should pick up the tab for rebuilding, and a 40 percent plurality said they trusted the federal government to have primary control over how funds are spent.This probably reflects the legendary corruption of Louisiana politicians and is probably an accurate reflection of the situation there. But it is unfortunate that people seem incapable of seeing the desirability of smaller government, even in the same breath that they recognize that government does not handle social and charitable issues well.
Only 23 percent said local governments should control the purse strings, and 27 percent favored the state as the watchdog.
I have said this before, of course, but it bears repeating: if people paid less money in taxes, there would be more available for charitable giving. Many argue that disaster relief requires the efficiency of centralized planning, but this experience with Katrina should prove the flaw in that argument. Should, but probably won't, alas.