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Channeling the Guru
Posted by: Dale Franks on Thursday, September 01, 2005

Billy Hollis, who is a regular QandO reader and one of the country's top experts on .NET software developement—at least, judging from his published output—writes:
Since I don't have a blog, I thought I'd suggest a couple of items you guys might want to consider putting up an item about.

(1)

I think one of the outcomes of the New Orleans disaster is that Rudi Gulliani becomes a more likely nominee for president in 2008.

Bush is getting slammed for not doing anything quickly, even though there is looting, people dying, etc. Of course, it’s not his job – the mayor of New Orleans and the governor of Louisiana are the ones who should be crucified. But that does not stop the liberal media from doing all they can to pin the failure on Bush.

So that makes disaster response an issue in the next election, because the Democrats will be harping on it for months. But Bush isn’t running in 2008.

Now ask yourself: who is the person in the entire country most strongly identified with good disaster response? Yep. Rudy. This issue will likely make him more visible and credible for the next year or so, as the early positioning for the presidential race begins.

He’s already got some advantages as the nominee. He would almost certainly take New York away from any Democratic candidate, including Hillary, and without New York’s electoral votes, it’s impossible for any Democratic candidate to win.

Now he also has the advantage of completely inoculating the Republicans against the “Bush screwed up over Katrina!” mantra. Any other Republican might have to endure fallout from that, but not Rudy.

I’m not particularly enamored of Rudy as a president, but we could do far worse.

(2)

Some buzz is beginning to build about not rebuilding New Orleans in its current location. I've seen discussion that talk about continued sinking due to compaction of the delta sediments, based on research done in earlier years. For example,

http://www.buzzmachine.com/index.php/2005/08/30/should-new-orleans-be-rebuilt/

There's a point I haven't seen made anywhere up to this point, however. If New Orleans is rebuilt below sea level, have we not just shown our terrorist enemies what one well-placed truck bomb would do? A ton or thereabouts of fertilizer and fuel oil would be all that would needed to submerge New Orleans again.
Consider it blogged, Billy.
 
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You wouldn’t even need a bomb just some of those orange cones and a back hoe.
 
Written By: Unaha-closp
URL: http://
Unaha, that’s not right. I just choked on my coffee.

;)
 
Written By: Sharp as a Marble
URL: http://sharpmarbles.stufftoread.com
Thanks, Dale. I hope QandO readers will consider that worthwhile stuff to think about.

I’d really like to write a blog, but between writing books and consulting, it’s just not in the cards for a while. The software development world has recovered from the dotcom meltdown, which means high demand for consulting, and there’s lots of interesting new technology in the pipeline, which means a lot to write about.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Oh, and another thing...

(I’ve always hated that, and here I am doing it.)

The bombed levee scenario would be much more disastrous than the hurricane because there would be no notice to evacuate the city before it flooded, or prepare for the flood in any way. Multiply the probable death toll by a factor of ten at least over Katrina.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Billy,

I think you raise a valid point. I do wonder how in a free society you can keep me from moving back? I assume you mean that it would be up to those of us who want to live there to tax ourselves to protect us, insure ourselves, and live with the consequences. Maybe not. If that is what you mean though, then I am all for it anyway. I just would want to be able to opt out from the federal tax sytem for the most part and pay for our municipal services we want from the federal and state governments as we see fit. If we want the ACE to help with the levees we pay. Otherwise we do not. The same with other services. Maybe that would be a reasonable basis for us to rebuild. We shoulder the risks and the reward. I know that will not happen, but it seems a proper federalist way to approach the moral hazard issues New Orleans poses.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://
I do wonder how in a free society you can keep me from moving back?
I can’t. I can only point out the consequences, and hope that the civic body that makes up New Orleans makes an intelligent decision.


If the duly elected government there, in cooperation with the state and federal governments, comes to the conclusion that the current site is a lost cause, and allows it to flood, then the individual choices go away. That’s what I’m proposing ought to happen.

I just would want to be able to opt out from the federal tax sytem for the most part and pay for our municipal services we want from the federal and state governments as we see fit.


Even as a libertarian, I don’t think that’s a solution worth taking seriously. The original constitutional purposes of the federal government, particularly including national defense, have nothing to do with your municipal choices. Neither do the social programs that now make up the bulk of federal government expenditures. I don’t think it’s reasonable that you want off the hook for all of that just to shoulder the load of your own flood insurance. (I’m all in favor of more federalism, and the resulting reduction in federal spending, but not to apply just to a privileged class. It’s something that should apply to everyone, and of course that’s never really going to happen in our lifetimes.)


I’d compare this situation to people who own beach houses on the East Coast. The federal government subsidizes their flood insurance, which allows them to develop property that would be too risky to develop otherwise. They periodically have hurricanes wipe out lots of houses, and they just keep using the insurance money to rebuild. If and when the federal government realizes the folly of those programs and takes away that flood insurance subsidy, that would certainly not mean that those property owners are absolved from paying federal taxes.

 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Billy,

I said opt out for the most part. Defense obviously would be excepted, as would some social insurance schemes. So I am not suggesting we wouldn’t be obligated to not pay federal taxes. I am saying that if we want to eliminate insuring against some risks rather than others (and I doubt the type of programs we are discussing are nearly as expensive as after the fact insurance for earthquakes and flood insurance in general) then the government has to allow us the ability to choose the level of risk we want to take, and the means (through reducing our taxes) to make those choices. I also wasn’t talking about flood insurance in particular, but the extensive infrastructure required to make the area safer, which would make insurance easier to provide.

Still, I don’t see anything I said as being in conflict with what you wrote. The programs you describe eliminate our ability to reorder our priorities, and thus diminish individuals and local ccommunities abilty to address their particular desires as opposed to nationwide. I don’t think we are in disagreement here. I too don’t think this flies politiclly, as I stated above. I am saying that in a free society we shouldn’t be faced with a choice of choosing not to rebuild or having society rebuild for us. The third choice is let us do so and carry the risk.

 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://

 
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