The Baltimore Sun has an interesting story, which, on the face of it, tries to show how great government projects are:
First, it's clear that New Orleans was spared another catastrophe in large part because of the massive investment in infrastructure the federal government put into strengthening the region's network of levees and dams in recent years.
Well, keep in mind that said projects were started under President Bush.
But, that still does not make them the right projects.
Basically, what we have here a bunch of people who choose to live in an extremely flood prone area. Without the externally funded levee system, some people may still choose to live there, but the levee system creates an illusionary reduction in risk which encourages more people to build and locate in these areas where nature can easily defeat human-built structures.
Yes, this time New Orleans seems to have been spared. But there has been plenty of damage and flooding elsewhere. Are we going to pretend that the Federal Government can prevent all flooding everywhere? Or, is New Orleans in some way more important than other locations? Why does the Federal Government not fix the pipes in every building in every city, town, and village in the United States so no one ever suffers water damage?
Malibu is subject to mudslides, New Orleans is at perpetual risk of flooding, areas in flood plains around the country are always at risk.
No private individual or corporation could have constructed the system that safeguarded New Orleans. But Americans collectively could — and did — accomplish that feat through their government …
Exactly, no private individual could build a system that could create the illusion that man can permanently keep nature at bay encouraging people to pour billions into the risky investment of building in that area, safe in the knowledge that both their actual investment, and costs in case of a flood would be shouldered by other Americans. Yes, the levees ensured that people in New Orleans were better off after this storm than they would have been if the levees had not been there.
But, would so much have been at stake if the levees had not been there in the first place?