Thursday, September 01, 2005

Markets in everything?

Government officials insisted they were putting forth their best efforts and pleaded for patience, saying further help was on the way.

I swear that this is a desperate suggestion, not an attempt to make a political point, but:

The government's best efforts, to this point, are not getting New Orleans evacuated. What if W, or the governor, got on TV and and announced that anyone with available, ventilated transportation would be paid $500 for every person they evacuated from the city? Pick 3 checkpoints 20 or 40 miles outside the city, and let the charities or whoever take over from there.

I suspect there would be trucking companies cutting windows in their trailers with axes toute suite and hiring people to ride shotgun, in the original literal sense. I also suspect there would be fraud, abuse, and other horrible unintended consequences, including some people being shot indiscriminately. But weighed against the status quo, which appears to be thousands of people starving, dehydrating, and dying in the streets of New Orleans while patience is requested, I think the "lack of organization" inherent in such a plan doesn't look so bad. If there's going to be anarchy, let's have lives saved, instead of lost, as a consequence.


At 7:49 p.m., Blogger Chris Selley said...

I'm not clear on whether the problem is bus-related or water-related. The Superdome appears to be linked to dry land, and the Convention Centre is right next to the Crescent City Connection, which should theoretically take people out of town. Evacuation is the ultimate goal here, obviously, but if they're having trouble commandeering hundreds of buses to take these people to Texas, why don't they commandeer five and bring these people some food, water and security? This situation is abso-freaking-lutely inexplicable.

At 8:20 p.m., Blogger The Monger said...

I agree with both you and Chris Selley. It does seem bizarre that the government has not been able to do more--or at least, more on camera so we can see it. I also agree that a market in human survival, as it were, would likely do a better job than the government. But I think a moment's caution is in order. In my personal experience, whenever it's completely obvious to everyone that X is doing something wrong, and X persists in doing it wrong no matter how obvious the solution is, it is usually the case that "everyone" is missing some crucial bit of information that helps explain X's stubborn stupidity. We don't really know what's going on in the worst hit areas. There could be good reasons that more food/ water/ antibiotics/ etc. have not been more visibly forthcoming. I don't know what those reasons might be, but neither do you. We will know soon enough who the heroes and demons in this tragedy are. It's not necessarily the case that the government is doing things wrong--although certainly my bias is that they are screwing up. But what's obvious to us from thousands of miles away may turn out to be impossible once you are in the middle of the nightmare.

At 8:43 p.m., Blogger Matt said...

I certainly take your point, Monger, and I most emphatically am not saying that I know better that several dozen experts in Baton Rouge.

However, we are at the point where people in the United States of America are going to be dying of thirst on live TV. I can't think of a way that the success of the evac effort could be rated more poorly.

I think Selley, in his most recent post, echoes what has to be the thoughts of 80% of the continent. If nothing else is working, it's time for the military & National Guard to engage the bad guys and kill or imprison them. Weighed against (say) 500 preventable deaths among innocent people waiting for a bus, it's moral to kill a whole lotta bad guys.

At 10:24 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really is ridiculous that the self proclaimed greatest nation in the world cannot come to the aid of its own people who are dying and living like animals in the streets. I think it is especially deplorable that the nation's own president made a fly-over of the area on Wednesday in AirForceOne and still didn't find the time to DO SOMETHING - anything - PRODUCTIVE! I read he is finally attending the area Friday ... people CAN die of thirst in 5 days can't they? Then again, they do need those natural disaster funds to fund the war on terrorism.
On a somewhat related vein, I found myself wondering about Canada's reaction and wondering whether thay can deploy DART any quicker this time than during tsunami efforts, which I read on the DND's own website:
in support of the program, was not operational until January 11 - more than 2 weeks after the tragedy. I thought the point of this program was it's rapid-response capability.

At 3:28 p.m., Blogger ld said...

I read over on craigblog that they are doing exactly that: there are quite a few folk volunteering their homes and picking up people at designated meeting points.


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