I read this article last night and said, "Good." Persephone said, "What? You're the guy who thinks the government shouldn't be allowed to own anything, ever." I said, "But the government is on the hook for paying when these homes fall over. If the government is going to give you money when your home falls down, it should be allowed to tell you not to build your home there." Since we're already in Communist territory, we might as well go native.
My most-desired option is to allow these folks to rebuild if they want to, but they can't get insurance and they can't have FEMA money, ever. Since that won't happen, they shouldn't be allowed to build there. When Ike was heading towards Galveston I said to The Friendly Jerk, "It's almost like Nature is intentionally seeking out poorly-designed cities and destroying them on purpose!" First a coastal city built below sea level was flooded (New Orleans), and then a coastal city built on a ten-foot island was covered by a 20-foot sea swell (Galveston). A good rule of thumb for house building is: if sea walls and stilts are required, you will live to see your house float away. Now, I admit, that might be kind of exciting in a nihilistic sort of way, but I don't understand why taxpayers have to foot the bill where there are plenty of other nihilistic thrills out there (like rooting for the Pittsburgh Pirates).
In answer to Cristin's question: "what about people that can't afford to go on [pay roads]?" if you can't afford to drive, maybe you shouldn't. That being said, people would be able to afford a basic level of driving if they kept their federal and state fuel taxes. Then, being forced to pay for use instead of thinking roads are "free," usage would decrease dramatically. Traffic problems, fuel problems, and environmental problems would all decrease. Personal sovereignty would increase, as you get to decide what road projects are worth your support. Private industry would get involved in public transportation projects because there would be a market for them. Poor people would still move around--not as much as they used to, but as much as they needed to.
JT asked: "Isn't the basic premise of the open market is that micro level failures will occur, but macro level failures won't?" I think that's what's promised by the idea of general equilibrium. As long as people have need of a free market, it will be there. If everyone stopped selling their labor or the products of their labor, markets would go away, but the only reason to stop selling would be if you already had everything you needed, so no one would miss the missing markets. The problem, again, is government. It does a half-assed job of regulation, which creates problems, and then responds to those problems by saying, "It's because we don't have enough government regulation." For instance, they were compelled to act on behalf of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because they'd so thoroughly controlled those companies that most investors saw them as already being government programs. When Countrywide went down, no one expected government action and the market took care of the problem.
Another problem is the paternalism citizens have come to expect from their government. A common complaint regarding an "out of touch" politician is that "he doesn't care." For instance, Kanye West insisted that "George Bush doesn't care about black people." He wasn't elected to care, he was elected to execute laws. Legislatures were elected to enact impartial laws. By nature, their members aren't supposed to care. Caring is partiality. The law should protect all citizens equally. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Americans seek for cheap substitutes to fill the void created by their failure to believe in God. If God can't care because He doesn't exist, then George Bush or FEMA or the chairman of the SEC needs to care. I don't believe there are any true atheists in the world, because the despair it would bring would be soul-crushing, so instead they just find something else to relate to in a person-God relationship. It's the environment or it's science or it's family or it's government or it's friendship or it's sports or it's work. Whatever it is, it provides meaning by representing something larger than the self, something that promises some sort of permanence that will outlast our lives, granting us a measure of immortality. We care for it and it can't be proven to care back, but we have arguments with questionable verifiability for why it's not a one-way street. They're just different forms of religion.
Blogger is giving me all kinds of problems this week. I worked with it for an hour (and gave Persephone instructions through Instant Messenger for her to try to fix it at home) and my last post still has problems. When I get to the "edit" page, many of the existing features of the post go away. Two days ago the post had a link that isn't there anymore. If I delete my cookies and my temporary Internet pages before every time I refresh, it appears to work. I never had to do that before. So let me say here what the changes are that I want to make to the previous post:
- I wanted to add a link to a Mapquest page showing where Harvard and Summerfield intersect.
- I wanted to clarify that by "poor neighbors" I meant "bad neighbors," not "unfortunate neighbors" or "destitute neighbors."
- I wanted to add that I would have much rather seen a one-on-one interview between Joe and Jim than watched that "round-table" fiasco. I almost would have preferred to see Eleanor Clift on the panel than the lady they had (and that's really saying something).