catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

Lessons from disaster

Pete Boettke from Coordination Problem, formerly The Austrian Economists, posts on the application of  research findings from Katrina and other disasters to Haiti. The bottom line is that recovery from disaster is just another example of development and the same rules apply.

Two of the lead researchers in this project were Russell Sobel of West Virginia University (a leading scholar in empirical public choice) and Emily Chamlee-Wright of Beloit College (a leading scholar of qualitative research in economic development).  I asked both if they would share what they thought were the main lessons from their study of Hurricane Katrina for how to deal with the tragedy in Haiti.

Russ Sobel replied: “Pete Leeson and I argue in our Katrina work that the role of government after a disaster is similar to their proper role in normal times.  Protect rights, create law and order, and let markets get to work in delivering and allocating goods and services. (emphasis added) The stories I’ve heard about the looting and lawlessness there, similar to Katrina, show how the government is failing to do it’s basic job yet again.  After Katrina not only did the government fail at this job, but then it also infringed on the market’s ability to work–a double whammy.”

Emily Chamily-Wright replied: “The theme we ought to hit is “what can outsiders do to tap the capacity of civil society?”. This advice is rather general and abstract, but that is part of the point. Official relief providers can extend their effectiveness by identifying community networks and leaders within those networks that can be the source of local knowledge, authority, and habits of association that can be pivotal to rescue operations, administration of relief and taking the first steps toward recovery.”

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Written by Rafe

January 21, 2010 at 8:10 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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