This is how the central government gets its subordinate states ensnared in the Federal power trap. Much has been written already on the entrapment of the states in the Medicaid, education, and so on honeypots, with the Feds having gotten the states dependent on Federal monies for those programs, and then using that addiction to control the states’ behavior vis-à-vis those programs—and other useful state considerations—lest those funds have something happen to them (albeit descriptions have not been this blunt).
Here’s an explicit example, this time aimed at New Orleans and through this city the state of Louisiana.
Engineers consider it a Rolls Royce of flood protection—comparable to systems in seaside European cities such as St. Petersburg, Venice, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. Whether the infrastructure can hold is less in question than whether New Orleans can be trusted with the keys.
The Army Corps estimates it will take $38 million a year to pay for upkeep, maintenance and operational costs after it’s turned over to local officials.
Local flood-control chief Robert Turner said he has questions about where that money will come from. At current funding levels, the region will run out of money to properly operate the high-powered system within a decade unless a new revenue source is found.
“That’s been the eternal problem with flood-protection systems,” said Thomas Wolff, an engineer at Michigan State University. ”You build something very good and then give it to local interests who are not as well-funded.”
However, the Feds will blame the locals for the failure:
Congressional investigations found the old Orleans Levee Board more interested in managing a casino license and two marinas than looking after levees. Though the Army Corps of Engineers had responsibility for annual levee inspections, the local levee boards were responsible for maintenance. Still, the boards spent millions of dollars on a fountain and overpasses rather than on levee protection.
Never mind that the locals have a local economy that needs looking after, else there’s nothing for a (Cadillac) Federal program to…protect.
As Richard Fernandez notes in his post,
The problem with free stuff is that someone has to pay for it.
And when the Federal government sighs and says, “OK, we’ll pay,” it then also exerts control over the program being centrally funded and over the entity “benefiting” from that program. And so the entity and its citizens also “pay for it,” with their freedom of action.
So much for federalism.