Jo Ann Emerson Needs a Thinking Cap
So most of today, I have been fascinated by the Mississippi River and the efforts of the Corps of Engineers to control it. I’ve been reading everything I can find on it, and that will probably make it into a post soon enough. However, I ran across this article on USA Today’s website that addressed the long-standing, and in the context of these floods much-needed, argument on how to best manage the Mississippi. Some advocate de-shackling the river, potentially disrupting a good deal of development and farmland around it. A representative from Missouri, Jo Ann Emerson, wrote in an earlier column for USA Today that “removing flood protection is ‘a high ideal for environmentalists who live in safer places’ and ‘an unthinkable violation of property rights and liberty for Americans who have lived beside the river for more than a century.’
I would really love for Ms. Emerson to explain to me how you derive individual property rights and liberties from property that only exists through federally mandated and subsidized flood control systems. These people only have their property because the rest of America subsidized the construction of structures that allow that land to be available for development and farming. They did nothing individually to free that land from the river. It is functionally not theirs alone because its functionality is not derived from their effort alone. For them to then stand up and say that the Corps cannot decide to adopt smarter management practices because it would be “an unthinkable violation of property rights and liberty” is audacious, to say the least.