Center for Ethics and Leadership

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Make Levees, Not War

By now most of you know that Louisiana has a special place in my heart. My daughter went to Tulane, and I fell in love with the culture. So I was devastated by Katrina, and my daughter spent the first semester of her senior year at the University of Tennessee. Shortly thereafter she had a tee shirt with the slogan "Make Levees, Not War."

I don't know how many of you realize that although Katrina was a category 5 hurricane in the gulf, it may have hit New Orleans only at category 3. In other words, had we not overdeveloped the swamps, which slow hurricanes down (see my previous post on Environmental Ethics and Entrepreneurial Leadership), and maintained the levees, we might have had a much different story.

Today the news is about the flooding in the Midwest. In Wisconsin the levees broke. Let's wait to see if there is another story of the Army Corps of Engineers not being budgeted enough to maintain them.

The disrepair of the country's infrastructure should be an issue in the upcoming campaign.


  • What's that Dylan song...? "Blowin' in the Wind?"

    How many times must the levees break before we recognize the strength of the Mississippi? How many homes and lives must be destroyed before the issue is considered one serious enough upon which to be acted?

    The disrepair of the country's infrastructure should absolutely be an issue in the upcoming campaign...I'm just afraid that it won't be.

    By Anonymous Julia, At June 10, 2008 5:19 PM  

  • Good thoughts. Dylan is always good thoughts.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At June 11, 2008 9:45 AM  

  • America seems unable to muster the political will to do big things anymore. We built the interstate highway system, bridges and levees - but now we are unwilling to allocate the resources to keep them in repair.

    My real fear is that the inability to muster willingness to tackle big problems is not just a flaw in the political class, but ingrained in the electorate.

    It's somehow comforting to imagine the voters being mislead by political demagogues, but I'm concerned that what we see represents the true nature of the people.

    It seems that something like 50% of the voters really do care more about gay marriage, creationism and deporting immigrants than they care about thousands killed in an illegitimate war, the environment and the economy.

    I'm not so much worried that John McCain thinks "Islamic terrorism" is the "transcendent challenge" of the 21st century, I'm worried that so many other people seem to think that too...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At June 18, 2008 7:37 AM  

  • I (director) agree about the loss of our collective will. Jimmy Carter -- that guy often referred to as a failed president -- wrote a book about two years ago called Our Endangered Values in which he addressed your basic issue. It seems all Americans once shared a common philosophy of government but debated (hence political parties) on how to act upon it. It is not like that anymore.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At June 18, 2008 9:01 AM  

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