Thursday, September 08, 2005

No Mention of Opportunity Costs

The Marxist take on New Orleans is here (h/t Marginal Revolution):
How the Free Market Killed New Orleans


The free market played a crucial role in the destruction of New Orleans and the death of thousands of its residents. Forewarned that a momentous (force 5) hurricane was going to hit that city and surrounding areas, what did officials do? They played the free market.

They announced that everyone should evacuate. Everyone was expected to devise their own way out of the disaster area by private means, just like people do when disaster hits free-market Third World countries.

It is a beautiful thing this free market in which every individual pursues his or her own personal interests and thereby effects an optimal outcome for the entire society. Thus does the invisible hand work its wonders in mysterious ways.

In New Orleans there would be none of the collectivistic regimented evacuation as occurred in Cuba. When an especially powerful hurricane hit that island in 2004, the Castro government, abetted by neighborhood citizen committees and local Communist party cadres, evacuated 1.5 million people, more than 10 percent of the country’s population. The Cubans lost 20,000 homes to that hurricane---but not a single life was lost, a heartening feat that went largely unmentioned in the U.S. press.
And blah, blah, blah, blah.

Actually, the disaster in New Orleans was set up by government, as I explain here. And the failure to evacuate people was surely a government failure. Remember all those school buses and other municipal vehicles that went unused by the unesteemed mayor of NO? What happened in NO was by no means a test of free markets; it was proof that government isn't the answer.

Moreover, total preparedness for every conceivable disaster is a prescription for impoverishment. But that thought would never cross the mind of a Marxist apologist for Castro's regime. Cubans have little say in how they live their lives. Sometimes (rarely) that works to the advantage of Cubans; most of the time it works to their detriment. But that concept -- namely, opportunity cost -- is too subtle for your average Marxist propagandist to comprehend.