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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

 

Only you can prevent forest fires

A ten year old boy admits to starting one of southern California's fires. Later down in the article, Dr. Jeff Victoroff is quoted as saying, "At least one study suggests that if you take a population of boys between kindergarten and fourth grade, sixty percent of them have committed unsupervised fireplay, which is to say that fireplay is a common and absolutely normal part of human development." Another part of normal human development is not building your house in areas prone to recurring disasters. Just like the people in New Orleans, communities built in areas with high risk of disasters should not be surprised when disasters occur. The fire department also probably shouldn't be kicking back bottles of champagne after catching this mad ten year old fire bomber.

However, the real culprit is government. Government will bail these people out and thereby distort local knowledge and these distortions will cause further stupid behavior. For example, if it wasn't the government maintaining the levies in New Orleans, a private firm would have the incentive to ensure the levies never failed. They would also have the incentive to charge a high price to balance out the risk associated with maintaining the levies.

Before blaming a ten year old boy, entire communities of adults should ask themselves why they lived in a place where the hand of fate resembles the Ritalin riddled digits of a ten year old with matches.

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