Protection Money

Jim Henley makes a fair point, but I can't get over the implications of this Agitator post. Just $250 million to fix the damn levees and water pumps could have mitigated this horror so greatly. ("Mitigated", not alleviated; no amount of fixing-up was going to save the Mississippi coast, but without the flooding of NO this whole thing would be "only" a great tragedy, not an epic disaster).

$250 million isn't that much, not to any kind of large-scale organization at all. It isn't out of the reach of private efforts: insurance companies deal with sums of that magnitude and more every day; in a much more libertarian world, a consortium of 'em might well have put up the money via a dominant assurance contract.

If that's too dreamy for you, consider leaving the job to the city government. Yes, that government was horribly corrupt and stupid. Maybe, as Jim implies, no amount of increased resources and responsibility could have convinced them to do the prudent thing. And yet, and yet: a little back-of-the-envelope calculation is illuminating. New Orleans proper (not even counting the metro area) has, had (Christ, it's had, isn't it?), half a million people. The per capita GDP of Louisiana is, was, about $29K (cite). Let's assume that's a fair approximation to the figure for New Orleans; it contained a lot of poor urbanites, to be sure, but also was a center of economic activity compared to surrounding rural areas, so in fact it's probably an underestimate. The feds take around 18% of GDP in taxes IIRC; so New Orleans' citizens probably paid about $2.6 billion. Let's be conservative and call it $2.5 billion.

So for one-tenth of the amount they paid to support the feds, the citizens of New Orleans could have protected themselves from inundation. Instead, they left it to FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, &c; and who can blame them, considering the extravagant price they paid for those agencies' false promises? One damn tenth of all that was siphoned away to pay for other people's boondoggles and pyramid schemes and arrogant attempts to remake the world.

"Centralized power kills" is perhaps too simplistic. But it ain't looking too life-preserving today.

Share this

Doug, Yeah, I'd hope that


Yeah, I'd hope that Kerry would be able to pull off the election this November. He came pretty close last November when things didn't really look all that bad by way of comparison. Surely this would have given him another 100,000 votes in Ohio. Might have been tough for Bush to carry Louisiana at this point, too.

I commented last week that

I commented last week that the Republican Admimistration was having a hellish August, what with Cindy, Pat, gas prices, Shiite violence, and squabbling over the Iraqi Constitution. Now comes along the hurricane with discussions of levee failures, money misallocations, and the reported lawlessness and rescue ineptitude in New Orleans. Granted, it's always arguable how much blame Bush & Co. actually deserve in these instances.

But "perception is reality". I think Kerry would've pulled off the election if it was this November.

Unfortunately, while a great

Unfortunately, while a great deal of the blame also properly lies with the venal and incompetent Mayor & Governor (respectively) of Louisiana, all we're going to hear is how this is Bush's cockup. LA politicians will get a pass, ONCE AGAIN, for looting their people and passing the buck to DC, which for obvious reasons doesn't give enough of a damn.

It should also be pointed

It should also be pointed out that states can fund their own ACE projects. Beach renourishments, for instance, are currently funded solely by states.

So if this levee project was so important, why didn't Louisana or New Orleans budget money for it when the federal goverment didn't fund it?

Precisely. LA politicians

Precisely. LA politicians passed the buck to the Feds and now wants us to cry for them. THey could find money for the superdome & giveaways but no money for the things that keep them alive? And this is just Bush's fault? (leaving aside the fact that Clinton's administration also cut ACE budgets for levee building & maintenance throughout the 90s.)

Brian and Stormy, I

Brian and Stormy,

I completely agree, btw. As I said, the guy at the helm (Bush, etc) will receive the full-on brunt of the criticism, deserved or not. Perception is reality, I'm afraid.

But it's a valuable question to ask why highways leading to uninhabited islands in Alaska are funded with far more pork than an ACE bill.

While there is plenty of

While there is plenty of blame to go around, the quickest responders so far have been private charities.

This disaster has also hammered home the point again, if 9/11 did not that each of us need to prepare for a disaster on our own rather than rely on the government.

According to a 2001

According to a 2001 Scientific American article, the levees are themselves part of the problem, contributing to the sinking of New Orleans so that it is at greater risk of flooding:

I was told NE was given

I was told NE was given money to fix and maintain the levees but instead used it on the superdome?

Any credibility to this statement?