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The futile fight against (human) nature: A public choice analysis of the US Army Corps of Engineers – special focus on Hurricane Katrina

Jennifer Dirmeyer (George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, USA)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 4 July 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to discuss bureaucratic management, over‐confidence in scientific theory, information distortion and lack of coordination with particular focus on the post‐Hurricane Katrina situation.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper examines efficiency arguments for centralized control and the potential for government failure. It also analyzes the disaster of Hurricane Katrina with these problems in mind.

Findings

The Flood Act of 1928 officially transferred the responsibility of flood protection along the Mississippi River to the federal government. While it is true that local provision failed to eliminate the problem of flooding, the problems caused by federal provision have not been fully appreciated. The specific characteristics of flood protection as well as the general problems caused by bureaucratic management and the absence of market mechanisms suggest that local provision of flood protection is a more efficient solution.

Originality/value

The arguments in this paper suggest that, the previous belief in centralized flood management was unfounded.

Keywords

Citation

Dirmeyer, J. (2008), "The futile fight against (human) nature: A public choice analysis of the US Army Corps of Engineers – special focus on Hurricane Katrina", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 35 No. 8, pp. 627-638. https://doi.org/10.1108/03068290810889242

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited