The Corner

The Feds

From a reader (one of many):

Jonah,

I haven’t written in so long because I so often agree

or at least closely so, BUT could you clarify your

justification (and Rich & Rod’s) on sending in the

feds to New Orleans?

Isn’t this disaster the perfect example of why the

feds should be so limited rather than being a

“mother-of-all-exceptions”? How much of the $26

Billion should be subsidized by DC? Where would the

aid stop? Troops to maintain order while under marshal

law? Then what? Water, food, clothing, temp housing,

job locator’s, low rate personal loans?

And why federal troops? Isn’t this sort of event the

very reason (among others) for the existence of the LA

National Guard? The feds are already going to be all

over this event like white on rice in the short term

which most assuredly will turn into long term aid and

dollars. Why encourage the idea?

And long term, shouldn’t economic forces drive the

rebuild effort and investment? Why not rebuild if it’s

on the taxpayers dime? If insurance companies and

individuals have to assess the risk and rewards of

rebuilding using their own money won’t they make

better decisions about how it is done and to what

extent, if at all?

Me confused. If I missed a post in the Corner which

explains all this or I misunderstood please forgive me

and discard this rant.

All the Best,

[Name withheld]

Me: Hey, I agree that moral hazard’s a real problem and I’m totally game to have a serious debate about the tab the federal government should or should not pick up down the road. But it seems clear that Lousiana isn’t up to the task. This is quickly deteriorating into a humanitarian crisis of fairly enormous proportions. The looting cannot be contained. CNN reports indicate that the local police cannot communicate with each other. The governor is a hack out of her depth by all accounts. There are lots of things government isn’t supposed to do. But I don’t think letting a city revert to a state of nature, red in tooth and claw, while decent people die falls into the necessary costs of federalism. It’s entirely possible that things aren’t as bad as all that. But that’s how it appears, and that appearance alone is unacceptable. But, yeah, sure. Let’s have a healthy discussion about insuring people in flood zones and whatnot once order has been restored.

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