Friday, September 02, 2005

TCS and pathetic exploitation

While I have some small sympathy for the idea that politics are not appropriate during times of tragedy, the criticism and anger that has emerged due to the chaos in New Orleans emerged for a reason: help took far too long, and was far too paltry for too long. There's a difference between legitimate criticism and political exploitation.

This, for example, is political exploitation. The chaos in New Orleans, according to TCS, can be best alleviated by... gutting EPA standards?

Yes. Apparently, the big issue in New Orleans is not food, or water, but air pollution regulations, which introduce "delay and unnecessary cost in the fuel supply process"; something that, apparently, is going to hurt their ability to "power their trucks, cars, generators, and pumps".

Ok, obviously this is opportunist, because this is so far down the list of things that people need in New Orleans as to be infintesimal. The reason why the tragedy in New Orleans happened was because these people didn't have cars, and thus were unable to comply with the evacuation orders that had not been accompanied by evacuation means. Those with the means left; those who didn't, drowned and starved.

Even were it not patently illogical, however, it would be clearly opportunist to any reader who noticed this:

The pollution justification for the gasoline standards is largely theoretical, and needs to be weighed against the genuine needs of people in a continuing emergency. Indeed, the Hurricane Katrina crisis provides an opportunity to see whether those requirements are genuinely beneficial. If air pollution does not turn out to be a problem during the period when the requirements are lifted, the federal government should reconsider their usefulness.

On the other hand, governments should be wary of interventionist measures intended to keep down prices. Gas price caps, which Hawaii recently adopted, would be a terrible idea, since they create the worst energy problem of all -- shortages. No one will be helped by long lines at gas stations like the ones we saw during the 1970s gas crises. Instead, unadulterated prices remain the best method we know of to allocate supply to demand. To that effect, rather than cap prices, governments should remove taxes that artificially raise gasoline prices until the Gulf Coast's recovery is well under way.
This is so obviously partisan zealotry as to beggar belief; no amount of Bush bashing can even begin to match the tortured logic of opportunism that this assault on environmental regulation and legitimate fuel taxation represents.

More than that, it's offensive: the comment that Katrina "provides an opportunity to see if regulations are genuinely beneficial" is an insult to everybody who died in Katrina and everybody who is working to aid the survivors. It is not an "opportunity", Iain Murray, it's a tragedy.

The ludicrous belief that this situation could or should provide some sort of litmus test for environmental regulation just shows how intellectually bankrupt Tech Central Station is.

Of course, everybody already knew that. Still, it's a reminder for the days and weeks ahead that the left has no monopoly on "politicizing tragedy"...

...and unlike this joker, they have a point.

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