Wednesday, September 28, 2005

More Kerry Misfires

John Kerry just can't help himself. Michael Franc, in a column for The Heritage Foundation, notes:

Sen. John Kerry (D.-Mass.) delivered a stem-winder of a speech last week at Brown University. He alleged the President’s plan to rebuild the Gulf region would transform it “into a vast laboratory for right-wing ideological experiments.” He accused President Bush and his allies of “recycling all their failed policies and shipping them to Louisiana.”

Failed policies? You wanna talk about failed policies, Mr. Kerry? Franc goes on...

Excuse me? How exactly would Kerry describe the track record of liberal Great Society policies on education, housing, job training and welfare in New Orleans? After all, unlike the Ownership Society approach favored by the President and congressional conservatives, Lyndon Johnson’s legacy has been the norm in New Orleans and other large cities for four decades.

Exactly right. Louisiana has unfortunately been run by Democrats for way too long, hence the following track record:

Consider the following portrait of pre-Katrina New Orleans:

Poverty: The level of “extreme poverty,” which includes those with incomes 50% or less of the official poverty level, was nearly double the national average—10.35% compared to 5.7%. Overall, approximately one in four New Orleans residents lived below the official poverty line—again, twice the national average.

Collapse of marriage: The out-of-wedlock birth rate among African-Americans in New Orleans exceeded 75%, more than twice the national average of 34.6%, and considerably higher than the nationwide average for blacks. Not surprisingly, this catastrophic level of family breakdown gave New Orleans one of the highest welfare caseloads on a per capita basis in the nation.

Rampant illiteracy and innumeracy: As mentioned in last week’s column, the public school system in New Orleans receives failing grades as well. In the 2002-03 academic year, 60% of fourth graders tested “below basic” or worse in reading. Astonishingly, by eighth grade, three-quarters of New Orleans’ public school students couldn’t read at an acceptable level. The story is similar when it comes to math competency, with 68% of fourth graders and 65% of eighth graders being left behind.

Little upward economic mobility: Compared to the nation as a whole, New Orleans residents were much more likely to rent rather than own their homes and far less likely to work. Whether measured on a family, household or individual basis, income levels in New Orleans were woefully behind those in the rest of the nation.

Now, to be sure, those kinds of numbers are exactly what the Democrats love to see. The more people too stupid to fend for themselves and dependent on the government, and them, the better. That Kerry has the gall to call conservative policies "failures" is not surprising, but still hard to swallow.

Lawmakers such as Kerry who appear determined to consign New Orleans and other communities in the Gulf region to a repeat of these failed federal interventions need a reality check.

Not to mention they need to be booted out of office the next time they're up for reelection.