John — When I said I didn’t want to get into the merits of Santorum or his statement, I was trying to play it safely down the middle. But since I apparently can’t do that, let me make my point more clearly. I agree with you that Santorum’s comments were politically clumsy and ill-timed (sorry Kate). I agree with Kate that the basic underlying point has considerable merit. We learned this week that there are very real social costs imposed on the public and others by people who refuse to obey such orders. For every able-bodied person the police have to spend time rescuing there’s someone else who isn’t being rescued. The more people trapped in their homes after something like this, the more time and resources have to be dedicated to rescuing them which could have been better spent elsewhere. Why have mandatory evacuation orders if they aren’t, in fact, mandatory?
And, by the way, I think my analogy may not be perfect but it isn’t irrelevant either. The same principle holds. People foolishly did something they shouldn’t have done. If the costs of the rescue aren’t put back on the individual responsible, then basically the state serves as a free insurance policy for behavior it has explicitly declared unwise and/or unlawful. Maybe the analogy would have been better if I posited people who go off and ski closed courses on mountains and then get stuck.