(5th Distict) David Ratowitz discusses government waste, FEMA trailers and the current stimulus bill

From the Ratowitz for Congress campaign (5th District)…

U.S. Congressional Candidate, David Ratowitz (IL-5) marks the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina by discussing the failures of government in hurricane recovery and economic stimulus through the example of FEMA trailers.
Chicago, IL, June 24, 2010- Long time transparency and pro-liberty advocate Candidate for U.S. Congress from Illinois’ 5th Congressional District, David Ratowitz marks the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina with a series of articles based on his personal experience with the disaster and recovery process.

FEMA Trailers, Economic Stimulus, and Waste

This Sunday marks the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a storm that destroyed my home and most of the business I had built over the previous six years. Next to fatherhood and military service, Hurricane Katrina and the grueling 18 months of recovery that followed were the most formative experiences of my adult life. Media coverage will give Americans the opportunity to share in stories of desperation and fortitude.

The story that will not be told is the story of the largest federal works project in about half a century. Within two years of the storm making landfall, the federal government had spent $127 billion, more than the annual GDP of Louisiana and approximately $425,000 per storm victim. This is a story the media has generally ignored, but a story that must be told. The same journalism industry that did an admirable job of reporting on waste and inefficiency in Iraq forgot to ask those same questions in Louisiana.

The wasteful spending and inefficiency of the federal government response to Katrina mirrors the wasteful spending and inefficiency of the federal government’s stimulus program. Over the next week I will write several articles about the role of government in the Katrina disaster and recovery. These articles will explore topics such as bureaucratic decision making and the role of day-to-day corruption and patronage in the disaster.

Two weeks after Katrina, I returned to New Orleans to check on my home and business. Driving from Hattiesburg, MI, I noticed a field containing thousands of FEMA trailers near Meridian, MI along Interstate 59, maybe 35 miles from the people who needed them. FEMA purchased these 2-bedroom, 1 bathroom trailers for over $186,000 each, more than the cost of purchasing a house in most markets, and almost four times what I spent repairing an apartment building in New Orleans with six comparable apartments. None of those trailers ever left that field. None of them were ever occupied. The federal government’s response to homelessness caused by natural disaster was to spend hundreds of millions of dollars building a ghost town 30 minutes away.

Many have chosen to ignore the lessons of bureaucratic inefficiency in the Katrina recovery process in order to bludgeon political opponents. Those who dismissed the problems of Katrina recovery as one President’s problem must consider this: three years after building ghost town Meridian, the White House, Congress and Senate changed hands to a party that immediately authorized spending over $800 Billion on “shovel ready” projects to “stimulate” the economy. Five years later government cannot seem to find “shovel ready projects”, and nobody in government has even suggested removing those trailers. Meanwhile, FEMA continues to pay that farmer above market rents…

Entrepreneur, Army veteran, and activist David Ratowitz is the Republican challenger for Illinois Congressional District 5 representative. The Ratowitz for Congress campaign platform advocates a limited federal government, across-the-board tax cuts, fiscal discipline, accountability, free markets and individual liberty. Learn more at www.ratowitzforcongress.com

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