Survival of the richest

Categories: National

Who needs a disaster plan when you've got a free-market economy!?

The Center for the American Experiment, the conservative Minnesota think tank that spawned Strib columnist Katherine Kersten and Powerline's Scott Johnson and John Hinderaker, among others, has an archived piece on global warming that might explain the Bush administration's strategy for dealing (or not dealing) with natural disasters.

Of course the science of global warming is an unfounded hobgoblin, the Center claims, no matter that the 900-plus scientists who have studied the effects of carbon emissions have reached the same conclusion that the earth is being slowly suffocated. But more important than the future of the earth, according to the Center, is a free-market economy and deregulation of the energy industry. The best strategy to combat global warming, if it indeed exists, and resulting natural disasters is to devise a resiliency strategy. That strategy, the Center says, is simply a prosperous economy. In other words, the upper class gets golden life preservers and first-class tickets to the lifeboat departing from America's sinking ship:

Only a prosperous economy has resources available to protect against probable risks and to undertake remedial activity when events or changes do occur. In a newly released book, The Costs of Kyoto, Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute describes an appropriate analogy for the resiliency strategy.

"When a hurricane occurs in Florida, people are alerted early and move out of the path of the storm. [The widespread availability of private automobiles gives people the mobility to do so.] The wealth of our society makes it possible for people to incur the expenses of temporary relocation, and it funds rapid clean-up, restoration, and recovery. The storms in Bangladesh are not dissimilar. Yet Bangladesh lacks the wealth, the communication technology infrastructure, and the mobility needed to respond to such risks."

The consequences of storms reflect differences in resiliency. There are few fatalities in the United States, while fatality lists are tragically long in Bangladesh. The economic well-being that America enjoys helps to reduce our exposure to risk and improves our recuperation when disasters do occur.

A resiliency strategy, which builds on economic strength, freedom, responsibility, and limited government - the recipe that generates America's prosperity - better prepares us to face global warming among other risks.

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The book excerpted, The Cost of Kyoto, also makes other blind assertions:

Warmer weather will certainly have benefits--lower heating bills in the winter and greater agricultural productivity...

...A true "no regrets" policy [for responding to natural disasters] would focus on improving our resiliency and capacity for adaptation. This would involve a series of policy initiatives like deregulation, elimination of government subsidy programs, and privatization of government enterprises which inhibit our ability to offset any natural disaster.

Apparently the resiliency strategy backfired this time. Then again, if the only "resilience" being offered is the cushion that is the growing upper class, then it makes sense the victims of Hurricane Katrina were left abandoned by cuts in government programs and ongoing efforts to pad the wealthy. Under the proposed increased privatization policy, perhaps hurricane victims should look to corporations like TCF Bank, where Scott Johnson serves as vice-president, for much-needed assistance in the recovery effort. On second thought, it looks like the folks at TCF have their hands full with wads of cash reserved for a bigger issue: The bank is hoping to toss $35 million at the U to get its name on a stadium.


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