Posted by: Morgan Hubbard | October 7, 2010

Who decides?

Mir, it seems like you’ll never want for a job. And not because we couldn’t conceivably eliminate all risk from our lives (We could if we had yogurt overlords). But we never will.

It seems like the really interesting question here is one of authority: who gets to decide what’s too risky to do, and what’s not? In sections on Friday I’m going to ask students to talk about Teddy Roosevelt’s flair for trust-busting in the Progressive era. Between 1890 and 1920 the middle class in this country accomplished a mind-bending expansion of federal and executive authority. Since the sixties, the Right has busied itself trying to beat this expansion back, but they’ve only been semi-successful. It’s a constant war. What do we leave to the government to regulate, what do we trust the market to manage, and what do we choose to leave unregulated?

My sense is that most of us here are inclined to favor federal involvement in broad hazard mitigation and disaster management policies. But I want to pose a question. (Dan, this should prick your libertarianism.) When is hazard mitigation best left to the states or to municipalities? Or to individuals? Ever?

And in case anyone thought this was just idle bullshit, here’s one potential outcome.




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