Wednesday, December 29, 2004

 

My Mandatory Post On The Big Wave

Dang. Not much to say about it, other than when your time is up, you might not have much say in the matter.

Concerns about the lack of warning have surfaced, but even had a proper warning trickled down to authorities on a local level, how many people could have been evacuated in time? The difficulty of doing so is understandable to anyone who's, say, tried to go home after a big fireworks show or parade - and that's not even taking into account the "panic factor". This isn't meant to imply that there wasn't any action that could have resulted in a smaller death toll, but let's be realistic about the prospects of moving millions of (understandably) upset people via a somewhat primative infrastructure.

With regards to the issue of aid, I think Juan Cole makes a good point about how we may have missed an opportunity to improve our relations with that part of the world. Certainly, a more "human" response might have overshadowed the debate about our initial offer of aid. But the discussion over how much the US contributes to disaster relief brings up an important point - can a country so far in debt really afford to be making significant financial contributions? It's already been admitted that the $15M that we first offered-up pretty much drained our disaster-relief fund, so anything above and beyond that Congress authorizes is going to be deficit spending.

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