Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Re: Riddle Me This 

Well, Jason, I think its a mixed bag. First of all, the entire incident is horribly tragic, and none can say that these people should be without aide and comfort. If the American people are willing to pay the price in the form of taxes, then the will of the people should dictate that the government do all it can. On the other hand, how much burden for other people's decisions should I have to shoulder? Charitable giving is admirable, indeed one of the noblest of human pursuits, be it monitary or giving of one's time. But tax revenue is not my idea of charity. Perhaps the answer is one of simple economic incentives: whether or not you are insured, if you live in a high risk hurricane (or tornado, or flood for that matter) area, you should have to pay a higher tax to internalize the significant externality you will be imposing on others should your house be unwillingly transported from its foundation. Those willing to incur the cost will offset the cost they will have to the general tax paying populous. Clearly they will not be able to offset the cost completely, and perhaps shouldn't, given the lack of control any of us have over natural disasters and acts of God. But between such an incentive scheme, the presence of insurance, charity and some government assistance, the situation could be handled.

That's not to say the government doesn't have an obligation to help, but to some extent people who choose to live in a city below sea level that is prone to flooding have already elected to be responsible for themselves.

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