Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

Political Arithmetic

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyJanuary 13, 2006 8:10 PM

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Bush was in New Orleans yesterday, the day we learned that the federal budget deficit is going to be $ 60 billion more than expected, thanks to spending related to hurricane Katrina. Of course, that $ 60 billion hardly represents the only economic impact of the hurricane. For example, there are the insured and uninsured losses, which have been estimated at well over $ 100 billion. And then, of course, there's damage to the economy. Richard T. Carson, an economist at the University of California San Diego, has put the figure for that at around $ 1 trillion due to losses in shipping and tourism at a major port city. And of course, no one can put a monetary value on some kinds of destruction brought by the storm, ranging from loss of life, to a rise in mental illness and suicides, to loss of family pets, to the destruction of countless families' baby picture collections.

But the point is, these damages have a huge price tag on them. And given that price tag, it would easily have been worth it to spend a fortune before the storm to better defend New Orleans.

The same is obviously true today when it comes to the question of rebuilding the levees. I don't think New Orleans is going to have quite as much to lose as it did before, but I also know that it could be hit by an even more devastating storm. So the economic calculus in the future ought to be similar: Once again, it will be worth it to spend a fortune on hurricane protections.

Bush is spending $ 3.1 billion, and he seems unwilling to promise any more. It is hard to know what else to call this, except for an abdication of leadership and an abandonment of a city's future.

    2 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In