Thursday, September 08, 2005

Why we shouldn't aid Katrina's victims too much

A Slate column by economist Steven E. Landsburg:
First came the hurricane, then came the torrent. We're awash in accusations that the government has done too little to help Katrina's victims. Is it impertinent to ask how much would be enough? What's the right amount of federal assistance for disaster victims? ...

Let me offer myself as a case in point. I travel to San Francisco once or twice a year, and every single time I visit, I resolve someday to move there. I think my resolve has been substantially weakened in the past several days. Having seen how ineffective disaster relief can be, I am suddenly disinclined to live someplace where I might need to rely on it. And that's a good thing.

So those are two reasons we might want to rethink the policy of giving federal assistance to disaster victims. It encourages people to live in dangerous places, and it denies people the opportunity to accept higher risks in exchange for lower housing costs.
He's right, as usual. I lived near the epicenter of the 1989 7.1 earthquake in Santa Cruz. We had a disaster, but more disaster relief would not have been beneficial.

No comments: