Feeling the heat?
Posted by Daniel Hall on October 25, 2007
I have several friends who live in Southern California. From the inbox:
The Santiago Fire was a couple blocks from my place in Lake Forest. Here are some photos.
SoCal is a great place to live, but I wonder if we have the optimal number of people living there given the risks of fires and mudslides. Clearly we want to have effective emergency response to disasters in order to save lives and property, but at a certain level of effectiveness should we start worrying about moral hazard? As Matthew Kahn says,
…if the firemen were less good at putting out fires and risking their own lives, would fewer people live in the fire zone?
If it’s just state and local agencies that are involved in emergency response it may not be as big an issue: Californians all over the state choose to subsidize those who live in fire-prone regions. But if the federal government steps in with disaster-assistance — essentially serving as insurer of last resort — are we just encouraging too many people to live in paradise (or hell, this week)?
Photo credit: Chris Jones.