September 17, 2005
-- by Dave Johnson
To jump-start the recovery, the president said the federal government will create a "Gulf Opportunity Zone," encompassing the region damaged by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Within the zone, small businesses, including minority-owned businesses, will get tax relief and be guaranteed loans, and companies that create jobs will be eligible for tax incentives.Now hold on a minute. He's going to encourage employers all around the country to fire their employees and move to the Gulf Coast where they won't have to pay taxes and can pay peanuts? And I want to support that because ... ?
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The typical rip-off in these repug scams is in the operational definition of "small businesses". SOMEHOW all their big contributors will end up paying even less (seems impossible that they could pay less) than they pay now.
Oddly, opportunity zones can sometimes be very helpful, but it depends on who administers them. In NYC this approach has worked very well for parts of Harlem, the Times Square area, and the area around Union Square, but these were ALL established neighborhoods with commercial districts that just needed a little uplifting and were not disaster areas. This approach has not worked very well for post-9/11 downtown NYC. And it's obviously not the answer for those parts of New Orleans that are devastated residential neighborhoods, not business districts.
The simplistic approaches Bush is planning haven't got a chance in Hell of working in New Orleans. Each area even in NYC had its own very complex problems and required a host of other kinds of help, rezoning, and rewriting of regulations, not just calling it an "opportunity zone." There's no magic in those two words. The fairy godfather can't just wave his wand and everything's gonna be OK.
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