Saturday, September 03, 2005

New Orleans levees

I don't want to over-politicize this tragedy, but Lawrence White has a good post about who should have been taking care of the levees and why:

But why was it a federal job? The beneficiaries of the levees were entirely in one city, in one state. Why didn’t the city or the state pay for levee improvements?

Update:John Tierney has an excellent article as well:

Starting in the 1960's, the federal government took over the business of insuring against floods. It offered subsidized insurance to people in flood-prone areas, encouraging seaside homes that never would have been built otherwise. Even at bargain rates, most people went without flood insurance - only about a third of the homes in New Orleans carried it.

He also talks about how disastrous FEMA is:

People don't bother to protect themselves because they figure - correctly - that if disaster strikes they'll be reimbursed anyway by FEMA. It gives out money so freely that it has grown into one of the great vote-buying tools of the modern presidency.