Big Government + Hurricane Katrina = Disaster

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Hurricane
Katrina hammered and shattered the Gulf coast. Big Government made
it worse. A disaster.

If
the New Orleans levees and pumps were privately owned, they may
have been upgraded and fortified to deal with the city's worsening
flood risk.

Instead
they are owned, maintained, and funded by the city and other government
agencies. In typical Big Government fashion, politicians stumbled
and delayed. They left New Orleans residents in harm's way despite
clear warnings of danger.

Now
the government owned and operated pumps aren't – operating.
Private oil companies have hundreds of pumps on platforms in hazardous
and unstable seas.
The North Sea. Caribbean. Atlantic Ocean. Pacific Ocean. Their privately-owned
and operated pumps are working. Pumping billions of gallons of oil
every day.

Some
claimed that upgrading New Orleans levees and pumps would have cost
upwards of $10 billion. But that's an inflated Big Government price.
Private enterprise might well do the job better for a fraction of
the Big Government estimates.

Consider
the high price of NASA's multi-billion dollar space adventures versus
the $10 million free-market SpaceShipOne which flew into space on
October 4, 2004.

Or
consider Seattle's bungled, multi-billion dollar transit projects.
Or Boston's Big Dig, which has cost $14.6 billion – so far – for
just twelve miles of new roadway. Worse, its two tunnels are so
structurally flawed that they sprung hundreds of leaks shortly after
opening to traffic. No one knows how much those twelve miles will
cost in the end.

Big
Government destroys the important influence of free market property
insurance. As the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grows
bigger, and bails out more and more property owners located in dangerous
areas, it undermines the incentive to build smart. A free insurance
market would deter unsafe and inadequately insured building construction.

Big
Government prohibitions also encourage unsafe building construction.

Mississippi
bans casinos, forcing them offshore. As a result, large casinos
in Biloxi were built as floating mammoths along the coast, vulnerable
to storm surge. Without the casino "prohibition," they
would have been built on solid ground. Many would be built further
inland where they would be less vulnerable to hurricane damage.
They would be open for business today – rather than reduced to a
pile of rubble.

Big
Government not only makes hurricanes worse. It wastes even more
money attempting to mitigate the damage.

Silly
things like price controls under the guise of preventing "gouging"
will damage the already reeling economy and discourage free market
solutions.

Politicians
will spend billions on Big Government Programs for temporary housing
that will not be needed. If it quits preempting this market, more
free market solutions will be available – at no cost to the taxpayer.

There's
already mechanisms in place doing the job. As one example, postings
at Craig's List
demonstrate how many Americans are generously opening their homes
to Katrina's victims.

If
someone would just get word to the victims crammed into miserable
Big Government-sponsored shelters and stadiums, they could have
a comfortable and friendly place to stay while they sort out their
lives.

The
list of Big Government interventions that undermine personal responsibility,
gouge taxpayers, and make disasters worse is long. FEMA. Government
ownership of levees, roads, and land. Government-granted utility
monopolies. Government-funded stadiums. Building codes. Permitting
processes. Price controls. Gambling prohibitions. Homeland "security."

No
doubt readers of this column can identify many other ways that Big
Government compounds the damage of nature's force.

The
cumulative effect of these Big Government Programs is now costing
hundreds of lives and tens of billions of dollars.

Perhaps
most damaging of all is the myth promoted by politicians and the
mainstream media that Big Government is our savior in times of need
– rather than the cause of untold death and destruction.

September
3, 2005

Carla
Howell [send
her mail
] is Founder of the Center
for Small Government
and Sponsor of the 2002 Massachusetts ballot
initiative to End the State Income Tax — which nearly won with 45%
of the vote.

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