Louisiana did not forget the lessons from 2005 given by Hurricane Katrina, when a reported 1,800 people died in several states. Daniel Henninger in the WSJ explains why Hurricane Ida, of nearly equal strength, claimed about 46 people (as of Friday).
Joe Biden has created enough confusion over the difference between “real” and “human” infrastructure. What saved human lives in Louisiana, however, was real infrastructure, reports Mr. Henninger. In an extraordinary $14.5 billion concrete/steel project, funded by Congress and built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, with advice from several private Dutch engineering firms, now in place is a 133-mile-long system of elevated levees, breakwalls, floodgates and pumping stations.
Federal, State, Local Thanks
This was a government project—at the federal, state and local level—that worked. Yes, incredible to think, it can happen, and should more often but doesn’t seem to anymore.
The Biden-Pelosi-Schumer-Yellen redefinition of infrastructure to mean all public spending would turn the U.S. Treasury into a sump pump, draining away the country’s supply of private capital to support such nongermane ideas as an Office of Climate Change and Health Equity.
Using Louisiana as an example, Mr. Henninger writes of the state’s oft-derided political class that has saved New Orleans. On the other hand, as he notes, New York cannot rebuild its own metropolitan region.
Not Unlike the Politics that Destroyed Haiti
The projected cost of the Northeast region’s Gateway Project to rebuild tunnels, bridges and train lines is $30 billion, at best. It has little congressional support because the region’s political class has minimal credibility. The cost of maintaining their blue-state public sectors—unions, welfare, rampant insiderism—is so large that little tax revenue is left for physical infrastructure, which degrades.
Even as the world looked upon the wrenching destruction after Haiti’s earthquake, what can be done? As the world stared at damaged houses so poorly built, it wished something could be done. Yet almost nothing has been done in decades for the tens of thousands of Americans living in the falling-apart public residences of the New York City Housing Authority. So much for human infrastructure.
Biden’s bleak speech delivered earlier this week denounced nation building. Mr. Henninger fears it translates to, “tough luck, not our problem.”
In his depressing Afghanistan speech Tuesday, Mr. Biden delivered a denunciation of “nation building.”
But once past Afghanistan and Haiti, the news hurricane in time is going to bring awful images of human desperation somewhere else. Changing the channel to Netflix is morally corrosive.
How It Works
The U.S. survives the blows it gets, such as Hurricane Ida, because we live in a free market of free people that produces the wealth and knowledge to build systems of self-preservation.
The American model is a successful idea, not a war, and unlike Mr. Biden or the fellow he calls his “predecessor,” we should not be hesitant to export it.