How the State Reduces the Cost of Making Bad Decisions

I’ve explained how the state reduces the cost of committing violent act but that’s not the only thing the state reduces the cost of. The state greatly reduces the cost of making bad decisions. Consider the state’s actions after hurricane Katrina. New Orleans, a city left devastated after Katrina, was constructed below sea level next to the sea. Normally a series of levies kept the city from flooding during natural disasters but those levies broke and the city was hammered. One might ask why building a city below sea level next to the sea is a good idea. Considering the expense of rebuilding the city and building new hopefully better levies it may not make sense. If the residents of New Orleans were forced to front the entire cost of rebuilding they may choose to relocate to a more sensible reasons. To help residents of that area avoid having to deal with the consequences of building there the federal government has chosen to sink a great deal of money into rebuilding.

After hurricane Sandy the federal government is swooping in again to help relieve people from the consequences of their bad decisions. Dauphin Island, a small speck of land in the ocean, has been destroyed by hurricanes before and Sandy didn’t show the island any special treatment. The federal government is providing funds to rebuild the island:

The western end of this Gulf Coast island has proved to be one of the most hazardous places in the country for waterfront property. Since 1979, nearly a dozen hurricanes and large storms have rolled in and knocked down houses, chewed up sewers and water pipes and hurled sand onto the roads.

Yet time and again, checks from Washington have allowed the town to put itself back together.

Across the nation, tens of billions of tax dollars have been spent on subsidizing coastal reconstruction in the aftermath of storms, usually with little consideration of whether it actually makes sense to keep rebuilding in disaster-prone areas. If history is any guide, a large fraction of the federal money allotted to New York, New Jersey and other states recovering from Hurricane Sandy — an amount that could exceed $30 billion — will be used the same way.

The state distorts reality. When common sense would lead most people to abandon dangerous property instead of constantly rebuilding it the state provides funding to alleviate people’s suffering from their bad decisions. Consequences that once seemed far too expensive to repeat the cause become bearable when the state foots a portion of the bill. This leads people to repeat the same mistakes again and again knowing that they will not be forced to deal with the entirety of consequences.