Professor Froward's Slough of Despond

Proud purveyor of flawed generalizations and vacuous tautologies.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Levees, levees, levees

Remember the levees? In New Orleans? That, uhh, hurricane thing, the one Karl Rove caused with the weather machine?

Well, people are digging through decades of decisions on this stuff, and it turns out that the sole cause of the failures was not George Bush not having voted in Congress for an eight-year-long project four years ago, or whatever. In fact, the Army Corps of Engineers did something dumb in 1965, and "environmental groups in the 1980s derailed plans to erect a structure to block storm surges from Lake Pontchartrain", and Congress pulled a real boner in 1992. Those are some high points. Before, since, and along the way, everybody else did everything wrong, too.

Would a stronger central government have helped? There's nothing about "strong central government" that guarantees competence or good sense, while there's a lot about living in the actual flood plain that ought to inspire sincere interest in the levees (though in this case it seems it didn't). The lefties admire the way Cuba and the PRC handle evacuations; they also admire the way those two garden spots handle everything else.

Should we drop everything and devote all our national energies to dealing with hurricanes? Yes, by all means, now that the horse has bolted, let's put everything we've got into the barn door. At least until the roof blows off.

But that's not really fair, because we can fix the door and do other things, too. We can ignore the really deranged hyperventilators who want to keep our entire military home all the time, just in case a tree blows down.

Nations run into these things, and they deal with them without hiding under the bed.

By contrast, the Netherlands decided to protect itself against the worst storm possible in 10,000 years after more than 1,800 people died in a massive levee failure in 1953.

...and having built it, they now put a little time and money into maintenance every year and spend most of their time worrying about other things. Never mind the "contrast"; there isn't one. They had inadequate levees right up until over a thousand people died, and then they got to work on the barn door. Just like us.