I feel a little less charitable than I might otherwise for all the people suffering along the Mississippi River (and its flooding) because I’ll be picking up the bill, along with millions of other taxpaying Americans who do not live in flood plains and have not been repeatedly bailed out by the federal government during predictable and severe annual flooding. Perhaps in a freak and unpredictable event, a society should help its countrymen in need. But what is not reasonable is doing so year after year. Every year I read about some town along the Mississippi that is at risk of being flooded. I have read of such severe floods as long as I’ve been alive. These people, even if they are helped, should have their homes and towns bulldozed. They can live somewhere else. While we can help people, unsustainable towns and farms, as such, have no claim on our sympathies.
There are many variations on this “moral hazard” theme. It’s no different than the idiotic but common practice of building hotels, condos, and other developments on barrier islands nationwide. Yes, the beaches are beautiful, but the entire worlds built there are essentially dead meat in the event of a hurricane.
Americans are easily manipulated by images. We have lost the hard-headedness and unsentimentality that formerly defined our national character. The annual Kabuki Theater of Mississippi flooding and political rent-seeking is just the latest installment.