I don’t have a Nobel Prize, so I don’t get to make outrageous comparisons without which the whole world would not call me on them. Paul Krugman has won a Nobel Prize for Economics, which I understand is something (economics) he dapples in, when he’s not proselytizing for all things progressive or liberal or Marxist or whatever is the name for the moment of the the political idea that government is always the answer and never the problem.
Because he has a Nobel Prize, Krugman gets away with thinking and saying just about anything he wants, so long as it toes the liberal/progressive/Marxist supplicant line. Here’s a bit of what he said in today’s (November 5, 2012) New York Times:
I could do a point-by-point — and it’s definitely worth it, if you’re curious, to revisit the 2005 Katrina timeline to get a sense of just how bad the response really was. But for me the difference is summed up in two images. One is the nightmare at the New Orleans convention center, where thousands were stranded for days amid inconceivable squalor, an outrage that all of America watched live on TV, but to which top officials seemed oblivious. The other is the scene in flooded Hoboken, with the National Guard moving in the day after the storm struck to deliver food and water and rescue stranded residents.
The point is that after Katrina the government seemed to have no idea what it was doing; this time it did. And that’s no accident: the federal government’s ability to respond effectively to disaster always collapses when antigovernment Republicans hold the White House, and always recovers when Democrats take it back.
Let me, in my humble, non-Laureated opinion, offer a crucial distinction between Sandy and Katrina. Katrina was a monster that roared ashore sweeping everything away in its path. It killed almost 2,000 people and ultimately inundated practically all of New Orleans under water several feet deep. It was a Category 5 monster hurricane that had only slightly weakened to Category 3 by the time of its landfall. Its storm surge washed the coastlines clean of all structures, in places, as far as a half-mile inland.
The death toll from Sandy approaches what, maybe 50 people? The flood waters, which mainly affected underground structures, receded almost immediately. The stock markets reopened just two days after it hit. The New York Knicks played a game in Madison Square Garden against the Miami Heat two days after that. (The Heat, apparently feeling bad for New Yorkers, did not show up to play, leaving the Knicks to drain uncontested shot after uncontested shot. In a fit of compassion and hubris, the Heat believed itself capable of healing the city by allowing the Knicks to beat them. Of course, that the Heat threw the game out of compassion for Knicks’ fans can never be proved, such is the nature of basketball. But anyone watching the game could easily tell what was going on.) And yesterday, in New Jersey, the state hardest hit by the storm, the New York “football” Giants hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers (in which it appeared that the NFL had instructed the ref’s to do for the Giants what the Heat had done for the Knicks, but the Steelers refused to play along, and beat the Giants and the ref’s soundly.)
In contrast, after Katrina, the New Orleans Saints had to play their home games in San Antonio while the Superdome was being repaired, and seriously thought about leaving the city for good. Even the local NBA franchise had to relocate. The New Orleans Hornets moved to Oklahoma City for two seasons after the storm until things could get rebuilt. Does it really need saying that the Bush Administration did not cause the roof to blow off the Superdome? Or, that the Obama Adminstration did not prevent the roof from blowing off Madison Square Garden?
Comparing federal government response in the two storms is like comparing the war in the Pacific in World War Two with the US efforts in the Philippine Islands in the Spanish-American War of 1898. The going was a might more difficult and messy for the Americans in WWII, which lasted over three years, than in 1898 in the Philippines, which lasted a few weeks, but then Spain was no Japan, just like Sandy was no Katrina.
In short, Sandy was to Katrina what a house cat is to a lion.
Had the New York/New Jersey area been hit by a storm even remotely approaching the power of Katrina, we might have been spared Krugman’s nonsense, at least for a while (he complains that his power is out and his basement flooded, but curiously survives well enough to tell us about it), as he would have had either to evacuate or ride things out on his rooftop for days, just like they did in Katrina. No government, federal or otherwise, could have prevented the catastrophic destruction Katrina caused, nor could any government have instantaneously rescued all those affected and put things right overnight. It is the nature of Nature that even the richest, most powerful organization of mankind’s creation is puny compared to her power.
After reading Krugman’s article, I almost wondered if it wasn’t satire (but then realized, Krugman is too smart and serious to even recognize satire when he sees it). Does this moron, too smart apparently by halves, really believe that Sandy and Katrina are comparable? If so, he is exhibit A of the type of policy wonk who you don’t want making or recommending policies that might affect you.