Tuesday, September 06, 2005

What's Poverty Got To Do With It?

Many of the residents of the areas New Orleans that were flooded had incomes below the poverty line. But what government policy would have saved more of them?

Government has been very successful in promoting home ownership. There was over 50% home ownership in the flooded part of the city, and the rest still owned rooms full of possessions. Even poor Americans live with lots of stuff they don't want to leave behind. Some people could even afford non-productive non-food animals (pets) that they were reluctant to leave behind. People in true poverty have little to leave behind, and would be less reluctant to leave their homes. The "success" of federal disaster aid also makes living in disaster prone areas more affordable. It is the success of our economy that so many people had homes and possessions that they did not want to leave behind. Only because of our success did so many people choose to stay behind.

The lack of private transportation is frequently cited as causing so many to stay behind. Two in 10 households in the disaster area had no car. But all government policy, from labor, CAFE, emissions, and safety standards, has been to make cars better, but more expensive. Our government does not try to increase car ownership. The government has always encouraged the use of public transportation, by rich and poor alike, to reduce pollution, congestion, and other problems. Our successful use of public transportation allows people to live without cars. But it was the failure to utilize public transportation that was more responsible than anything else for the number of lives lost in the flood.

2 Comments:

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9/06/2005 6:01 AM  
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10/03/2005 8:28 AM  

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