Friday, March 02, 2007

Sorry, but I can't support suing the Army Corps of Engineers for their supposed failure to prevent the damage to New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina...

While it may seem a tad inconsistent, while we look to our government to protect us from harm, our government has no absolute duty to protect us from harm. The police have no absolute duty to keep us from being victims of crime. The federal government is not responsible to keep us from ever being the victim of a terrorist attack. The FDA is under no responsibility to ensure that we never get sick or die from bad drugs or food. The FCC is not responsible for keeping us from hearing or seeing anything on network television that might upset our delicate senses. And the Army Corps of Engineers had no absolute responsibility to keep New Orleans dry.

And it doesn't (or shouldn't) matter if damage to New Orleans was because of negligence on the part of the Corps of Engineers or despite the efforts of the Corps of Engineers.

We ask government to do lots of things. And, except in situations where a contract of some kind applies (I presume nobody lining up with their hand out entered into a contract with the Corps of Engineers whereby, in return for paying a premium of some kind, the Corps guaranteed to keep their houses high and dry), we have no financial claim on our government (which, remember, is really just us) when government doesn't do what we want.

The proper way of dealing with a so-called 'failure' on the part of government to do what we want is by voting out of office those officials who were in charge of the offending agency. If/when we don't think a given police department is doing enough, we vote out the mayor and the city council. If/when we think the National Institutes of Health aren't doing enough to discover a cure for a given disease, or when we think the FAA and the FBI aren't doing enough to keep terrorists from hijacking airplanes and flying them into skyscrapers, we vote out the President and those in Congress at the time.

That is how we should deal with government not doing what we want... not by lining up with our hats in our hands demanding money.

And it's especially bothersome when so-called conservatives are among those looking for a payoff... whether or not they're planning on giving away to charity any money they get. Whatever happened to the principle of being responsible for one's own actions and decisions (including the decision to live in a city that lies under sea level)? Whatever happened to the principle of viewing government as having limited powers and limited responsibilities to take care of us? Or are these principles that only apply when it's someone else whose house was flooded?