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A Letter to All of You in Sandy's Path: Learn From What You Helped Teach the Gulf Coast

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Dear My Friends and Fellow Citizens on the East Coast:

I know it's hard to think about this right now. The wind outside is howling away. Your streets may be filling up with water. If your power isn't out yet I'm sure it will be soon and possibly for quite some time. It's easy to get lost in the moment during hurricanes, but I implore you, start your rebuilding plans now.

You see if many of you in the Northeast taught us anything a bit more than seven years ago, it is that hurricanes like this one present an amazing opportunity. So let me repay all the favors you gave the Gulf Coast back then by helping you get your rebuilding plan going as you helped us get ours on the right track.

The absolute first thing you have to do is fire all your public school teachers. Just fire them. We all know education is broken in this country and that teachers are to blame. So why not take this opportunity to do what you helped us do back in 2005? It might create a bit of confusion when the power gets turned back on and the debris gets removed, but that's a small price to pay for our children's future. Besides, if there's a shortage of teachers we can help with that the same way you helped us. We certainly have a surfeit of energetic recent college graduates who we'll happily send up there to fix your ailing schools. They may have no experience and most peer-reviewed education research concludes they're not as effective as your former teachers, but they bring energy to the classroom! Sure, they may only stay for a year or two, but their M.B.A. and law school applications will be so much stronger because of it and they'll make quality education a national issue.

Firing your teachers is the first step to fixing your broken education system, but there are others you can take too. After you get rid of your teachers it will be that much easier to turn control of your schools over to a variety of non- and for-profit groups. Don't worry, you need not be concerned about whether these schools are effective or not, whether they cherry pick students, cook their test scores, get rid of education professionals in favor of computers, what kinds of salaries their board members are taking in, etc. As you've told us many times on countless of your leading editorial pages, this is the model for education reform in the country. In fact if you're as lucky as us, this will lead you down an easy road to a voucher system in the next few years. Educational equality will come shortly thereafter, I promise.

If you taught us anything though, it's don't stop at education. I've noticed that in many of your cities you still have some of these pesky things called public housing projects. They obviously breed dependency on government, crime, and a whole bunch of other social ills that a good 21st century city can't have. I mean, the people who live there are just so, well, they're just so...poor! Don't worry though, there's opportunity here too. In fact, many of you and your most famous companies like Goldman Sachs were so charitable back in 2005 that perhaps we can return the favor. How about you hand over the land that this public housing abomination is built on to us and we'll promise to continue to offer some low cost housing units for a few more years.? It's the least we can do.

Do you have any free clinics up there? I'm sure you do. Remember your lesson for us on this issue. Health care delivered outside of the market is bound to be shoddy. My suggestion is to close them all down for four or five years at the very least. Besides being an obvious sign of progress and modernization, this will have the added bonus of making it harder for those pesky people to return to their pathologically poor government controlled housing. In fact, if you really want to learn from the way we listened to you, you can even take the land those clinics were on and turn it over to developers. That's bound to get the economy back on track after a storm of this magnitude.

Speaking of the economy, it will take a while for it to get back on its feet after Sandy. Don't worry though, there's plenty of opportunity here too. For starters there's lots of construction work after a storm. As always though, it's hard to hire construction workers, I mean they demand such high wages for things like having the skills to properly rebuild your homes and businesses. Take the lessons you helped us learn to heart though -- all those laws that demand prevailing wages for rebuilding projects, they can be suspended in a national emergency!

There will be lots of other economic possibilities as well. Disaster tours can bring in many tourists from around the country intent on spending money. Many of us would be happy to come up, help you fix your roof, and eat at your incredibly authentic and quaint restaurants while we're at it. We've even got some extra drywall to donate if your house got badly flooded. Hell, I hear Mardi Gras in Philadelphia can be pretty fun, I'm game.

Again, thanks to the many of you who showed us the error of our ways before Katrina. In no small part because of your help, influence, and investment you showed us that, as many of you have said over and over again, a hurricane can be the best thing that could ever happen to our schools, houses, hospitals, and economy!

In conclusion, stay dry, stay safe, and learn from what you helped teach the Gulf Coast seven years ago.