Serrano & Gaouette wrote:
> WASHINGTON - For years, Washington had been warned that doom lurked
> just beyond the levees. And for years, the White House and Congress
> had dickered over how much money to put into shoring up century-old
> dikes and carrying out newer flood control projects to protect the
> city of New Orleans.
There are a great many projects throughout the United States that are
'critical' but are 'underfunded'.
The Federal Government does not have an unlimited well and can't pay
for everything everybody wants.
It must be remembered that many people strongly disagree on what
projects are actually "critical" as well as what constitutes
"underfunding". Let's take an example close to home:
If it were up to me, every Telecommunications service provider or
manufacturer would have regular on-site audits by both technical and
financial inspectors by the FCC to ensure their system is reliable,
won't screw up other people, meets high standards of performance, and
isn't a sham -- the kind of oversight to prevent a Norvergence.
But I can't help but suspect a lot of people in that business,
especially smaller ones, would feel that's a waste of money and would
not appreciate FCC inspectors nosing about their business asking tough
questions and demanding answers.
In other newsgroups, there was considerable debate concerning if in
fact the levees were underfunded or who was responsible for what.
Anyway, every state has a backlog of critical bridge and highway
construction and lots of other needs.
In my state, the Feds proposed a flood control project that the locals
shot down. Years later, we got very serious flooding that that
project could've prevented, and now it's up for discussion again. So,
people can't even agree on what desirable infrastructure is. In New
Orleans, they're arguing about wetland areas, for example.
I also note that some newspaper columnists pulled the race card,
claiming more might have been done had New Orleans been a more
affluent or Bush supporting area instead of poor and black. Yet other
states get floods in very wealthy areas where million dollar homes are
washed out. So much for that theory.
Serrano & Gaouette further wrote:
> To cut spending, officials gambled that the worst-case scenario
> would not come to be.
The reality is that this kind of gamble is done every day in every
city across the country. There simply is not enough resources to do
everything everyone wants done.
First off, not everyone agrees on criticiality of every project. Some
projects may hurt other people who object to them (a flood control
project was nixed because of that). Not everyone agrees on the amount
of funding necessary.
Secondly, there are many infrastructure needs that could called
inadequate. Roads, highways, hospitals. We do the best we can.
As an example close to home, I would be in favor of beefing up the FCC
with technical and financial inspectors who would rigorously check all
telecom providers (service and equipment) to ensure they meet rigorous
standards. Let's prevent another Norvergence. I'd dare say a lot of
people in that business would resent such severe demands and time
requirements to fulfill those audits. Who would be right? As you can
see, there is no "right" or "wrong" answer when it comes to spending
money or taking Federal action.
By the way, The New York Times had a columnist, Tierney, blame the
local officials for the failure:
He noted the Norfolk VA area has locally prepared flood plans and the
like which New Orleans didn't have.