Friday, September 2, 2005

Is it really the fault of the state?

Lew Rockwell thinks so.

I'm generally a fan of Mr. Rockwell. He eloquently and clearly outlines positions I share regarding the overbearing power of the state, and our willingness just to go along and give up essential Liberty.

I take a little issue with this article, though. I think the timing is awful. I'd rather see the time spent finding what's wrong with the situation in New Orleans be spent trying to find ways to make it right.

I also think his point, while valid, makes a logical error in assuming in this case the privatization solution would have resulted in a significantly different outcome. But we can't know that.

The problem here is public ownership itself. It has encouraged people to adopt a negligent attitude toward even such obvious risks. Private developers and owners, in contrast, demand to know every possible scenario as a way to protect their property. But public owners have no real stake in the outcome and lack the economic capacity to calibrate resource allocation to risk assessment. In other words, the government manages without responsibility or competence


It is critically important that the management of the whole of the nation's infrastructure be turned over to private management and ownership. Only in private hands can there be a possibility of a match between expenditure and performance, between risk and responsibility, between the job that needs to be done and the means to accomplish it

This is my position as well, but we simply can not know the result of private ownership in this disaster. It might have been worse, it might have been better. I know what I think, and certainly Rockwell makes that case, but we just can't know.

Rockwell also points out that Libertarians get made fun of when we say stuff like this.

Can levees and pumps and disaster management really be privatized? Not only can they be; they must be if we want to avoid ever more apocalypses of this sort. William Buckley used to poke fun at libertarians and their plans for privatizing garbage collection, but this disaster shows that much more than this ought to be in private hands. It is not a trivial issue; our survival may depend on it.

I think we'll get made fun of again, because we can't show that a private system would have been better - we think it would, but you never know.

We can't place any blame right now. This disaster is ultimately due to one thing - a big hurricane. We can't stop them, we don't cause them, and they cause lots of damage when they hit.

Right now, we have to made due with what we've got, and hopefully make adjustments. Learn from the things that don't go right, celebrate the things that do (especially the remarkable charity of our culture), and hope for the best.

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