The Brian Gongol Show on WHO Radio
Brian Gongol

Would a New Deal-style recovery program fix things New Orleans? Probably not. It's almost scary that John Edwards is able to use tragedy to score political points by calling for programs that just don't help. The New Deal didn't end the Great Depression -- but it did make a lot of Americans dependent on the government, and it created a big voting bloc that could be relied upon to vote for the politicians who promised them more money.

Too many people are easily bluffed into believing that government can legislate resources into existence. It can't; we can't simply pass laws declaring that everyone gets a 7,000-square-foot home and a Ferrari. Resources come from having better ideas or making things more efficient. That's why politicians who get elected promising handouts for everyone deserve the same kind of disdain reserved for companies like Microsoft, who try to cheat the system by patenting ideas at a ridiculous rate, instead of coming up with good new ideas.

The problem is that big businesses usually get brought down to size by market forces -- Sears, Montgomery Ward, Western Union, IBM, and AT&T are all one-time giants that have been crushed by smaller competitors with better ideas. But the same thing doesn't happen to governments. Instead, when sports teams head out of town, leaving behind empty stadiums or when state legislatures spend out of control, the taxpayer ends up holding the bill.