Whose Fault was Hurricane Idalia?

Hurricane Idalia made devastating landfall on the west coast of Florida a few weeks ago and then ripped across the state where “woke goes to die” (who makes up names for hurricanes, anyway? I looked it up. It is the World Meteorological Organization; who knew? go figure).

Who or what is to be justifiably blamed for this event and others like it? To hear left-wing environmentalists tell it, it is the fault of not global cooling, the cause of all weather evil in the 1970s, nor, yet, global warming, the bete noire in the 1990s, but temperature change, the guilty party nowadays. This, in turn, is the result of capitalism, greed and profits (but I repeat myself), failure to ban fuels such as coal and oil, and over population. It is difficult to maintain this explanation with a straight face, since there is no evidence that hurricanes are getting worse.

What then is the real cause of these horrendous events?

Government, of course, both directly and indirectly.

How, directly? One cause of these weather catastrophes is the fact that the oceans are heating up, and this is conducive to these deadly disturbances. How in bloody blue blazes is this the fault of government? It is due to the fact that these organizations preside over the situation in which such bodies of water are unowned. This gives rise to the tragedy of the commons. If these waterways were privatized, this problem could be directly confronted. I don’t say cured, certainly not overnight, but at least in this situation, our best institutional arrangements, free enterprise and private property rights, would be brought to bear on the problem.

How, indirectly? Government makes us poorer than otherwise we would be. The state takes roughly 50% of the GDP and pretty much wastes it all. If we had this back from this venomous institution, we would be twice as rich as we are. And what, pray tell, does this vile organization do with its half share of all that is produced? Why, it reduces the efficiency and effectiveness of the marketplace. It does so by engaging in useless unjustified wars, and by highly regulating the economy. This latter stretches from creating unemployment (minimum wage laws), housing crises (building regulations, rent control), inflation (thanks to a central bank which has somehow “mislaid” about 97% of the value of the dollar it was assigned to protect in 1913), reducing competition and creating economic inefficiency (anti-trust legislation), and decreasing labor productivity (public education, so-called “affirmative action,” general wokeness, etc.)

What does poverty have to do with weather conditions? Simply this: wealthier is not only healthier, but also allows us to be more and better protected from adverse weather conditions. It is not for nothing that two storms of equal intensity will play much greater havoc in a poorer than a richer country. The buildings in the latter nation will be built far more sturdily.

I do not say that if our wealth were quadrupled without the loving care of the state apparatus, that storms such as Idalia would be banished to the history books. Instead, it might well be that this increased prosperity would instead spell the end of cancer; or, possibly banish some other dread disease. Perhaps, instead, or in addition, we would have colonies on the Moon and Mars far sooner than otherwise would have been the case. Maybe the added affluence would end forest fires. It is like pressing down on the water in the bathtub: it is difficult to knew from whence the splashes will come onto the floor of the bathroom.

Who knows precisely which benefits would accrue to mankind were our wealth to quadruple? Not I. One way to estimate this is to compare our economic lifestyles with nations that are 25% as rich as we are. We have many more goodies than they do. All I know for sure that that if the government were out of the picture, it might well be that Idalia would be the last of her siblings to visit us.

Subscribe on YouTube

Free the People publishes opinion-based articles from contributing writers. The opinions and ideas expressed do not always reflect the opinions and ideas that Free the People endorses. We believe in free speech, and in providing a platform for open dialog. Feel free to leave a comment!

Walter E. Block

Walter E. Block is Harold E. Wirth Endowed Chair and Professor of Economics, College of Business, Loyola University New Orleans, and senior fellow at the Mises Institute. He earned his PhD in economics at Columbia University in 1972. He has taught at Rutgers, SUNY Stony Brook, Baruch CUNY, Holy Cross, and the University of Central Arkansas. He is the author of more than 700 refereed articles in professional journals, three dozen books, and thousands of op-eds (including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and numerous others). He lectures widely on college campuses, delivers seminars around the world and appears regularly on television and radio shows.

Prof. Block is the Schlarbaum Laureate, Mises Institute, 2011; and has won the Loyola University Research Award (2005, 2008) the Mises Institute’s Rothbard Medal of Freedom, 2005; and the Dux Academicus award, Loyola University, 2007. He has lectured, debated and/or made presentations at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Chicago, Berkeley, Stanford, British Columbia, Toronto, Simon Fraser, and scores of other universities.

Prof. Block counts among his friends Ron Paul and Murray Rothbard. He was converted to libertarianism by Ayn Rand. Block is old enough to have played chess with Friedrich Hayek and once met Ludwig von Mises, and shook his hand. Block has never washed that hand since. So, if you shake his hand (it’s pretty dirty, but what the heck) you channel Mises.

View Full Bio

Add comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Featured Product

Join Us