09/21/2005: The Cost-Benefits of it All...
I recently heard on ABC News that the Port of New Orleans - alone - was an industry worth $99 Billion dollars to the Nation annually, and through which 25% of our imports and 17% of our exports passed.
And this butt-covering guy for the ACE, Lt. Col Strock, says the Cost-Benefits behind the AEC and the levees in NOLA was considered!!! Bah!!
If It Keeps on Raining, Levee's Going to Break: The loss of New Orleans wasn't just a tragedy. It was a plan. by Jonathon Rauch (Senior writer -National Journal):
The evacuation plans were inadequate and then bungled. The rescue was slow, confused, often nonexistent. Yet the most striking fact of the New Orleans catastrophe has received less notice than it deserves: The plan for New Orleans in case of a hit from a very powerful hurricane was to lose the city.
In other words, if a severe hurricane struck, the city's flooding and abandonment was not what would happen if the plan failed. It was the plan.
Weighing low-probability, high-cost events is, as it happens, something economists and engineers know a bit about. W. Kip Viscusi, an economist at Harvard Law School and the editor of the Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, points out that the Corps of Engineers was among the first to develop and apply what has become a common cost-benefit template.
Strock told reporters that decisions about the levees were based on "whether it's worth the cost to the benefit, and then striking the right level of protection." Unless one uses very optimistic assessments of hurricane odds and economic costs, and also places a low value on human costs, New Orleans did not strike the right level of protection. Even in foresight, Naomi's characterization of New Orleans's vulnerability as "tantamount to negligence" appears justified. A far larger flood-prevention program should have been under way.
"This was not a close call," Viscusi says. "It's a no-brainer that you do this...
Click on the link to read Rauch piece in full.
Karen on 09.21.05 @ 12:33 PM CST