Tis better to clean up a mess than to prevent one?

A couple of weeks ago, I saw the following post from my friend Chris Battle’s Security Debrief blog.


New Study Indicates Voters Reward Politicians Who Push Disaster Relief Not Disaster Preparedness When most of us think of what we should be doing to prepare for disasters, we often forget that exercising our role as citizens and voters can be as important as the more well known tasks like storing emergency supplies or creating a communications plan. That point is underscored by an intriguing new study, Preferring A Pound of Cure to an Ounce of Prevention: Voting, Natural Disasters, and Government Response by Andrew J. Healy, an economics professor at Loyola Marymount University.

Study Indicates Voters Reward Politicians Who Push Disaster Relief Not Disaster Preparedness | Security Debrief – a blog of homeland security news and analysis

I’ve been ruminating on the concept. So this study indicates we are an American society that places much more value on being rescued than preventing the need for rescue?

This study principally talks about disaster relief. I wonder about man-made disasters that may not claim lives or property, but create political or economic crises for future generations. Are we so busy blaming others for what happened, what didn’t happen, or what should have happened that we’re failing to address what could happen if we spent half as much energy looking forward and building a future?

Doesn’t this confluence of attitudes make it easy for someone to create a disaster and then come sweeping in with a checkbook or some big talking and look like the hero? Sort of like Superman tampering with the brakes of a locomotive so he can swoop down in front of an adoring public and prevent death and destruction.

According to the NYT Freakanomics blog, here’s the cost of rewarding rescues versus mitigating the affects of disasters:

Healy finds that, on average, every $1 spent on disaster mitigation prevents roughly $8 of disaster damage over the following five years. But in most cases, voters shun politicians who call for more investment in infrastructure and other disaster preparedness efforts when the skies are clear.

Politicians routinely run on pledges to prevent crime by putting more cops on the street. Why don’t more candidates run on preventing future floods by putting more levees on the river?

What’s the cost of these man-made political and economic crises swirling around us?

Makes me want to figure out how to be an ounce worth of prevention.

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