"The People Have to Do the Work"

by Don Boudreaux on August 29, 2008

in Complexity & Emergence

Prosperity is created — lives and businesses are rebuilt — by individuals, each working and creating.  On this third anniversary of Katrina striking Louisiana and Mississippi, it’s worth two minutes of your time to watch this short video.

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Gary August 29, 2008 at 2:39 pm

He's on the right track, but he's just a touch shy. Not only can government not fix everything, but in this case the government is enabling people's efforts to do NOTHING. Its estimated about 1,000,000 people were displaced by Katrina. Total expenditures by the Federal Government are expected to exceed $100,000,000,000. That's $100,000 per person! Many of whom CHOOSE to live below sea level!

sethstorm August 31, 2008 at 2:10 am

That's what happens when you have things built to the lowest dollar cost, and not to the naturally required objectives(read: withstanding substantial Category 5 hurricanes).

I'm surprised they haven't figured some way to backfill places above sea level. They have more than enough land that's been flooded and demolished.

Not only can government not fix everything, but in this case the government is enabling people's efforts to do NOTHING

That's more of a "businesses providing a cheap solution versus the proper solution" problem.

SteveO August 31, 2008 at 4:04 pm

I've mentioned this before, and I repeat it here not to toot my own horn, but because new people are always checking in.

I was one of those people doing the work. I went to New Orleans twice, one year after another. I demolished a house the first time, and built foundations and siding the second time.

There has been an army of college students who have gone to New Orleans since the storm, and done all kinds of volunteer work. Rebuilding homes for people they may never meet. I was forunate to be able to shake hands and laugh and cry with the family whose house we demolished. Turns out, at one point they lived just a few miles from our college. Small world.

What I want to point out is that only in an incredibly luxurious country can college students come from all over the country to help people who they've never met. I doubt that happened in Burma. Not because there's not brotherly love- but because they simply couldn't afford it.

Without government programs like FEMA and FFDI, probably half of those people wouldn't have lived in a risk prone area anyway. And more economic prosperity would have accrued to those who did decide to live there.

Even despite those existing problems, we still have an amazing ability to help- and it's not because of a government program.

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