Nick Gillespie, at Reason.com, has nailed it. Three reactions to the hurricane are not only predictable but silly. The first I covered yesterday, exposing the broken window fallacy that Sandy is going to be good for business. Gillespie takes after Professor Peter Morici, as I did:
At Yahoo Finance, University of Maryland economist Peter Morici wrote that “rebuilding after Sandy, especially in an economy with high unemployment and underused resources in the construction industry, will unleash at least $15-$20 billion in new direct private spending – likely more as many folks rebuild larger than before, and the capital stock that emerges will prove more economically useful and productive.”
It’s just a shame that we can’t have a massive disaster every season. And boy, let me tell you: Pompei is really going to be something once the dust finally settles!
This is a variation of what’s known as the “broken window fallacy”…
Since this is so inevitable and predictable, Gillespie calls this response “repetition disorder.”
The second response is more serious: the expectation by an increasing number of citizens that the government is there to take care of them, even if it costs them their freedom. He is talking, of course, about FEMA. First, he castigates their inefficiency:
FEMA spends a whopping “$10 billion on disaster coordination and relief.” For all sorts of reasons – the foremost being the immutable law of geography – first responders will always be largely drawn from local and state sources. Those are the people who will not only be most numerous but will also have the best knowledge of a given area.
Then there is the morality involved:
And other than immediate humanitarian aid, is there any reason to shift the costs of living near the ocean, or a river, or in a fire-prone desert area to taxpayers who choose not to inhabit places that are so risky and expensive?
Finally, “everyone” could see this coming – it’s due to global warming – oops, climate change:
On Monday’s Morning Joe, Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University’s Earth Institute underscored that Hurricane Sandy was evidence that man-made climate change needed to be addressed pronto and wasn’t it shameful that the topic didn’t even come up during the presidential debates? Worse still was the continuing – and frankly inexplicable – reluctance of people everywhere to sign on to his preferred plan to save the world (which predates Sandy by many years and will doubtless outlive all memories of the storm too).
How predictable. How silly.