Best tsunami defense: prosperity

OpinionJournal weighs in on the finger-pointing after the tsunami in Asia:

It is preposterous to blame the inexorable forces of nature on the development of industry and infrastructures of modern society. The more sensible response to natural disasters is to improve forecasting, put in place efficient communications and evacuation procedures and, should the worst arrive, conduct relief efforts and rebuild what nature has destroyed. Those cautionary measures, as is now clear, cost money. The national income necessary to afford them is made possible only by economic growth of the sort too many of environmentalists retard with their policy extremism.
Rich countries suffer fewer fatalities from natural disasters because their prosperity has allowed them to create better protective measures. Consider the 41,000 death toll in last December’s earthquake in Iran compared with the 63 who died when a slightly stronger earthquake hit San Francisco in 1989.
The principal victims of the tidal waves in Sri Lanka and elsewhere Sunday were the poor people living in coastal shanty towns. The wealthier countries around the Pacific Rim have an established early-warning system against tsunamis, while none currently exists in South Asia. Developing countries that have resisted the Kyoto climate-change protocols have done so from fear that it will suppress their economic growth. These countries deserve an answer from the proponents of those standards. How are they supposed to pay for such protection amid measures that are suppressing global economic growth?

Makes sense to me.

Who are you calling stingy?

A mere two days after a tsunami killed nearly 40,000 people in Asia and Africa, the Bush administration has made an initial pledge of $15 million for relief efforts in Asia. But that’s not fast enough for some people:

“The United States, at the president’s direction, will be a leading partner in one of the most significant relief, rescue and recovery challenges that the world has ever known,” said White House deputy press secretary Trent Duffy.
But U.N. Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Jan Egeland suggested that the United States and other Western nations were being “stingy” with relief funds, saying there would be more available if taxes were raised.
“It is beyond me why are we so stingy, really,” the Norwegian-born U.N. official told reporters. “Christmastime should remind many Western countries at least, [of] how rich we have become.”
“There are several donors who are less generous than before in a growing world economy,” he said, adding that politicians in the United States and Europe “believe that they are really burdening the taxpayers too much, and the taxpayers want to give less. It’s not true. They want to give more.”

Where to begin?

  1. In what probably comes as a surprise to Mr. Egeland, tax revenue can’t be instantly increased here in America. We have this messy and inconvenient thing called a republic, where tax increases are debated by the taxpayers’ representatives, followed by something called a “vote.”
  2. An appeal to Christmas spirit coming from a European technocrat makes about as much sense as an appeal to modesty coming from Paris Hilton.
  3. Taxpayers can and do give more. It’s known as “charity”, something Americans are known for worldwide. Forcible taxation isn’t the only source of revenue known to humankind.
  4. If my memory’s correct, American taxpayers already cover something like 1/4 of the UN budget, including Mr. Egeland’s salary. That sounds like a good source of money to tap, in an effort to begin rectifying our “stinginess.” When Mr. Egeland offers to cut his own salary or make a public and “non-stingy” donation, I’ll treat him more seriously.
  5. Three words: Oil For Food.

Somebody give this guy a balled up sock, a roll of tape, and an instruction sheet.

UPDATE: David Limbaugh points out more ingratitude from our betters at the NY Times, who call America … wait for it … “stingy.”
UPDATE 2: Amen to Cliff May.
UPDATE 3: Stingy? Feh.

A tsunami-proof island

Want to live free of giant waves, yet still enjoy tropical weather and excellent scuba diving? Move to Guam (Google cached copy here), where I was stationed with the Coast Guard from 1994-96. Guam’s coral reefs and the nearby Marianas Trench protect it from tsunamis.
Of course, the occasional typhoon can cramp your style. There are plenty of brown tree snakes, which cause power outages and which have eaten nearly all the birds and bats on the island … which results in lots of big, hungry jungle bugs scuttling about unmolested. Let’s not forget the roaming packs of feral dogs, either. Oh, and wild boars. And surly “nationalist” islanders. But hey, at least tsunamis aren’t an issue.
On the plus side, Saipan’s close.