Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Picking Winners and Losers

The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, U.S. Rout...
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The Mississippi River is flooding again.  [yawn]  So is the Ohio River. [stretch]  Just as spring follows winter and night follows day, these rivers flood every spring. [snore]

What makes this spring's flooding noteworthy is the fact that it won't be mother nature who decides which river communities stay dry and which get flooded.  It will be the federal government.  It will not be a battle between riverside communities and the rivers, but a battle between two non-adjacent iverside communities themselves with the Army Corp of Engineers as the judge, jury, and executioner.

On the one hand, we have the city of  Cairo, IL, population 3,000.  Cairo is, by any objective measure, a city in decline.  Its population high water mark (if you will forgive the pun) was reached in 1920 at 15,000.  Today  the town consists of a couple of stately mansions in the west and slums in the east.

On the other hand, we have 130,000 acres of prime farmland in Missouri with about 100 homes situated on that land.

Both riverside communities are protected from the rivers by levees.  And the rivers are not expected to crest over the top of either levee.  However, the Army Corp of Engineers fears that the duration of the crest will prove too much for the earthen walls around Cairo to withstand.  The levee protecting the Missouri farm land is not believed to be in any danger of  failing.

So the Corp, in its infinite wisdom has tonight blown a two mile wide hole in the perfectly sound levee protecting farmland in order to lower the crest of the Mississippi and spare Cairo, IL from getting flooded out.

Mind you, both communities have been completely evacuated so this is not a choice between the destruction of human lives and the destruction of property.  It's a federal government coin toss to determine which property wins and which property loses.

You may think, dear reader, that the way the Watchman has presented this, he favors saving the farmland over saving the slums.  Not so!  The Watchman doesn't care who wins; he just wants the government to butt out.

By what right of  nature does the Army Corp get to decide who gets wet and who stays dry?  What right does the government have to destroy a perfectly good levee which the taxpayers have paid for and which will then need to be rebuilt with more taxpayer dollars after the flood waters recede?

The Watchman is sick of the government picking winners and losers!  Let God be God.  If  the levees around Ciaro hold, praise God!  If they fail, praise God!  But it's not right to destroy the property of Missourians to save the property of Illinoisans.

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