Government versus private efforts in rebuilding after disaster

David Paulin
Remember all those horrific wildfires in Central Texas last summer that destroyed thousands of homes?  There's an interesting article in today's Austin American-Statesman -- "Homes rise in Bastrop with the help of more than $4.4 million in donations" -- about how private donations and volunteer efforts (as opposed to yet-to-arrive Federal funds) are now fueling rebuilding efforts.

In reading that piece, I couldn't help but recall another article in the Statesman several months ago, "City program has spent millions to improve East Austin neighborhood, but has it helped?"

That article called attention to this interesting fact: 

"The City of Austin has spent more than $16 million over 20 years on a program meant to benefit residents who live near the Holly Power Plant in East Austin. But there are few tangible signs of that investment.

"With the plant now closed and soon to be dismantled and the Holly Good Neighbor Program slated to end next year , many homes in the largely Hispanic, working-class area remain dilapidated. And public spaces that could benefit from public dollars, such as parks and sidewalks, are far from first-rate."

As Obama leads the nation into an ever-bigger government presence in the econiomy and our lives, it is worth contemplating the inefficiency of the clumsy bureaucracies, versus the targeted efficiency of voluntary efforts in civil society.

Remember all those horrific wildfires in Central Texas last summer that destroyed thousands of homes?  There's an interesting article in today's Austin American-Statesman -- "Homes rise in Bastrop with the help of more than $4.4 million in donations" -- about how private donations and volunteer efforts (as opposed to yet-to-arrive Federal funds) are now fueling rebuilding efforts.

In reading that piece, I couldn't help but recall another article in the Statesman several months ago, "City program has spent millions to improve East Austin neighborhood, but has it helped?"

That article called attention to this interesting fact: 

"The City of Austin has spent more than $16 million over 20 years on a program meant to benefit residents who live near the Holly Power Plant in East Austin. But there are few tangible signs of that investment.

"With the plant now closed and soon to be dismantled and the Holly Good Neighbor Program slated to end next year , many homes in the largely Hispanic, working-class area remain dilapidated. And public spaces that could benefit from public dollars, such as parks and sidewalks, are far from first-rate."

As Obama leads the nation into an ever-bigger government presence in the econiomy and our lives, it is worth contemplating the inefficiency of the clumsy bureaucracies, versus the targeted efficiency of voluntary efforts in civil society.