If only New York officials had heeded the warnings by building levees and other storm barriers, they could have avoided much of the damage caused by Sandy–at least, according to the New York Times. Hindsight is 20-20 vision, but those warnings were about the sea-level rise that is supposed to accompany global warming, not the recent storm that, in fact, probably had nothing to do with climate change.
All over the country, self-appointed experts argue that the government should retrofit infrastructure and/or require private owners to retrofit structures to guard against earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tornados, volcanos, and other natural disasters. No doubt many of them expect to cash in on their expertise in consulting contracts advising officials on what needs to be done.
The problem with this is that such retrofits tend to be very costly and may only be needed for a tiny fraction of the structures that could be worked upon. California earthquakes, for example, may seem to have done a lot of damage, but in fact they only harmed a small percentage of developments in the Golden State. While it might make sense to insure that new publicly built structures can withstand natural disasters, what happens to new or existing private structures should be between the owners and their insurance companies.
Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg has issued a rule that all cars entering Manhattan have at least three people in them. While this may appear to make sense at first glance, it won’t take long for bureaucrats to think of reasons why some people (such as other bureaucrats) should be able to enter the city in cars with fewer than three occupants.
It would make more sense to increase the tolls required to enter the city to be high enough to keep the streets from becoming clogged and then let people decide for themselves how many should be in each car. Of course, this is very similar to a previous Bloomberg proposal that the Antiplanner opposed four-and-a-half years ago.
The difference is that Bloomberg then was proposing a permanent fixed charge mainly to pluck money from auto drivers to help fund the city’s failing transit system. The Antiplanner today is proposing a temporary variable charge solely to relieve congestion.
Most of the bridges into Manhattan are already set up for electronic tolls. All the city needs to do is raise those tolls to whatever is needed to keep incoming traffic down. The funds should be used to rebuild the highways and streets damaged by the storm.