Why can't we have a little experiment? Suspend labor laws and licensing laws, reduce taxes and establish school vouchers in one small place. If it is a bad idea, as the unions and lovers of big government contend, that will be clear soon enough. I suspect they really fear success: Schools will improve, business will recover, a thousand ideas will bloom. Then everyone hemmed in by bureaucracy's suffocating rules will want Louisiana's freedom, too.
The president has already suspended the "prevailing wage law" in areas affected by Katrina. The screaming! Union bosses accused the president of pushing an "antiworker agenda" that will deny people "fair wages." Nonsense. We never needed a law to force employers to pay prevailing wages. If a wage is "prevailing," it will just happen; if it's unfair, no one will take it.
The current "prevailing wage" law requires businesses carrying out government contracts to pay a wage set, not by supply and demand, but by collusion between unions and politicians who are eager keep their constituents happy. They make sure the wage is high even for unskilled work. In real life, of course, this strangles opportunity. Employers want to get as much productivity for their dollar as the law allows, so they hire only the most experienced workers. If you are a young beginner who wants to help, and learn, "prevailing wage" laws mean you're out of luck.
With those rules suspended, an unemployed flood victim may actually get a job on a federal project. New Orleans has a long history of poverty, and Katrina made the problem worse. Fewer stupid rules would help.
It's time to give New Orleans an emergency dose of freedom.
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