Friday, September 9
Katrina Disaster: O'Toole Again Redbaits Smart Growthers
Was "extreme dependence on cars and the lack of planning for public transportation, both for regular use and for emergencies," the reason so many poor were left in the New Orleans flood waters? Or was it government's failure to buy a car for every single Gulf Coast resident at risk of being displaced by natural disaster?
I'm surprised Randal O'Toole is considered a libertarian. In his most recent update to The Vanishing Automobile, he reasons that, in those areas pulverized by Hurricane Katrina and flooding, if a government entity had spent their money not on public transit but on automobiles for all, so many lives and livelihoods could have been spared.
This, of course, would have required a much wider Interstate 10, US-90, etc., and more parallel roads as well as a broader contraflow plan. It would also require so much space--land, multistory garages, etc.--for storage of these automobiles during times of nonemergency. And how would individuals of the public mobilize this fleet of vehicles when the need arises? The government would need to institute a massive coordination plan simply to get the cars loaded with evacuees, out of storage, and on the road in an orderly manner. All this would require huge amounts of tax revenue that a libertarian would ordinarily advocate not spending and instead returning to its payor.
Alternatively, jurisdictions could, given sufficient warning of disaster, direct the public to the center of their neighborhoods to board municipal and school buses normally used for public transportation and schoolchildren--buses the jurisdictions already own and can't use for their usual purposes anyway under the circumstances. Assuming the municipality owns enough such buses, and assuming public compliance with governmental orders to evacuate, the masses will be evacuated--perhaps more efficiently than in an all-automobile fleet as a result of fewer vehicles' crowding the roads.
But, prior to this particular disaster, the poor effectively had neither option. They were forced to stay for lack of transportation--contrary to some government officials' criticism that all those remaining had foolishly chosen to stay.
Sure, owning an automobile is advantageous to those in the path of disastrous weather. But, considering all costs to all parties, wouldn't an extensive bus evacuation have performed the same function, at lower cost to the taxpaying public and potentially more expeditiously than the everyone-get-in-your-state-issued-car method?
No, that would be communist, says O'Toole.
(Recall also O'Toole's comparison of smart growth ideals to communist East Germany.)
file under New Orleans, flooding, floods, flood, Katrina, Hurricane Katrina, hurricane, evacuation, evacuate, emergency, disaster, transportation, communism, smart growth, parking, Randal O'Toole, libertarian, redbaiting, government, Gulf Coast
Someone could buy a car for an elderly or a disabled person and he or she won't be able to use it/ The elderly and disabled suffered to most when they couldn't receive food and water in time.
However, some people with cars chose to stay and ride out the storm. In aerial photos, you could see flooded cars and cars on top of parking garages. So even if everyone could drive, many would still be left behind.
I heard Mr. O'Toole speak last week and during Q&A I told him that I thought it was extremely inappropriate to use the Katrina tragedy to push his pro-highway agenda.
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