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Old 02-15-2006, 05:45 PM   #31
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from Anderson Cooper's blog

How would you spend $300 million?
What could you do with $300 million? That's how much money the federal government has spent on a ghost town of empty mobile homes sitting in Arkansas. My CNN colleague Susan Roesgen visited this ghost town a few days ago and wrote about it here.

The mobile homes are supposed to be used for temporary housing for Katrina victims, and FEMA says they will be soon, but red tape and some apparently bad planning have stranded them in Arkansas.

I spent yesterday on the phone talking to New Orleans residents about what else could have been done with that money. Real estate agents say more than 2,500 permanent homes could have been built and sold to working class folks. Then the money could have been turned around to build even more.

The school board has spent $20 million from its operating budget to reopen 20 schools. Educators say with $300 million almost every school in town could be running again. On it goes: Hospitals, police services, public transportation. People from New Orleans say there are many, many ways $300 million could have been better spent.

I pulled out my calculator and figured out one of my own. With $300 million, you could make a carpet of dollar bills more than five feet wide all the way from New Orleans to Washington, D.C. Imagine that.

Forget for a moment about government handouts, about relief fraud, about who is to blame for the myriad mistakes that happened before, during and since the storm. This is $300 million of your tax dollars. Could you come up with a better plan for it?

Posted By Tom Foreman, CNN Correspondent
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