I said people are short sighted and don’t do enough to protect themselves against impending but not imminent threats. You thought that was hyperbole. BThinkProgress found a story in the New Orleans CityBusiness from June 6, showing that:
In fiscal year 2006, the New Orleans district of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for a record $71.2 million reduction in federal funding…The cuts mean major hurricane and flood protection projects will not be awarded to local engineering firms. Also, a study to determine ways to protect the region from a Category 5 hurricane has been shelved for now.
[Senator] Landrieu said the Bush administration is not making Corps of Engineers funding a priority. “I think it’s extremely shortsighted,” Landrieu said. “When the Corps of Engineers’ budget is cut, Louisiana bleeds. These projects are literally life-and-death projects to the people of south Louisiana.”
This is one of the few times when you’ll see the word “literally” used correctly.
Obviously, in the wake of Katrina, this will turn around. If the Cat 5 hadn’t been this year, though, funding for some projects would have been cut to a level adequate to pay salary, but not to undertake any new work.
Right now, we’re running a massive deficit, we’ve seen the fastest rise in national debt relative to GDP in history (I think) and we’re wasting money on tax cuts for the rich and a war over nothing in Iraq. We have avian flu ready to break out, a rolling epidemic of AIDS in Africa, coastal cities under threat from rising sea levels and more (and more powerful) storms, a terrorist threat which is only getting stronger, a crisis in health care, students who graduate from high school without functional literacy, and a growing energy crisis.
It’s about priorities. Right now, our priorities are way off. We’re taking money away from port security and coastal protection in order to do something. I don’t even know what, but it isn’t as important as those two items. Raise taxes or cut our spending in Iraq. Spend the money from the failed missile defense system somewhere else. Let our Guardsmen and women get back to their regular jobs, stop having to give combat pay and death gratuities. Let Iraq fix its problems while we fix ours. Put off buying new fighter planes until there’s some inkling that anyone might possibly threaten the ones we have already.