Government “Infrastructure” and Deadly Incompetence

Feb 16, 2017

The likely collapse of California’s Oroville Dam summons memories of the 2005 post-Hurricane Katrina catastrophe in New Orleans, although few people are sufficiently well-informed to recognize that that these natural disasters were made immeasurably worse by the politicized incompetence of the government agencies involved.

New Orleans survived the hurricane, recalls Ryan McMaken of the Mises Institute. The flood that devastated the city occurred because of “the failure of the levees built by the Army Corps of Engineers. In fact, incompetently built and poorly maintained government infrastructure was a major contributing factor in the severity and ultimate cost of the disaster.” The Oroville Dam was built by state officials in the 1960s as one of several projects that “offered huge risks and huge costs no private party could afford,” and its construction was rushed by state agencies without regard to future costs involved in its maintenance.

Twelve years ago, state and federal regulators were warned that the Oroville Dam was falling short of safety and maintenance standards, but no action was taken. Now more than 200,000 people have been ordered to evacuate homes and properties that will be destroyed if the dam collapses.

If the dam fails, “how will the disaster be remembered?” asks McMaken. “Will future commentators admit the role of the California and federal governments in laying the groundwork for this disaster? Or will the cause of the likely-deadly Great Oroville Flood of 2017 simply be listed as `rain’?”

Another possibility is that the tragedy will be integrated into official propaganda about the need for more assertive government measures to combat the supposed threat of “climate change.”