Old Drum

Commentary on Warrensburg, Johnson County and Missouri issues from a Libertarian perspective. View my earlier commentary at www.olddrum.net.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

New Orleans levees

While this is off my usual local topics, I thought I'd post my response to an article I read on the web. It's from the Nov. 23rd New York Times, by JOHN BIGUENET of New Orleans, called "Turkey With a Dash of Bitters." In essence, it expressed his anger about the response to Hurricane Katrina and his concern that the levees did not stend up to the storm. My comments:

There's no doubt that New Orleans sufferred excessive damage due to the failure of its man-made protection; if it is proved that faulty construction is a cause, action should be pursued. However, a couple of paragraphs the NYT article concern me.

The author said: "New Orleans is on the verge of death, but still, just as in the days after our levees crumbled, the government dithers, refusing to offer an unequivocal commitment to provide protection against Category 5 hurricanes.... But if the United States refuses to protect New Orleans, what will the world - and what will history - make of a nation that let one of its most celebrated cities die?"

Many celebrated cities along the Gulf & Atlantic coasts are vulnerable to major hurricanes - Corpus Christi, Galveston, Mobile, St. Petersburg, Miami, St. Augustine, Savannah, Charleston. Do they have the right to demand they also be protected from cat 5 hurricanes?

Many other cities are subject to destructive natural phenomena. Should the government absolutely protect San Fransico against the possibility of a 7.5 earthquake? Seattle against the chance that Mt. Ranier will erupt, turning it into another Pompeii? Honolulu against a major tsunami? Kansas City against an F-5 tornado? You get the point.

Even if it were possible, it's not the national government's role to protect everyone against the hazards of nature where they live. New Orleans already has some of the most extensive public works to protect it against nature, to include the levee system and the floodways north of the city and along the Atchafalaya. New Orleans perhaps deserves more than most cities because its location is economically vital, but there is no way that the government can or should attempt to protect the city, or any city or person, against every eventuality.

In Liberty


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