Tuesday, June 11, 2013

a billion here and a billion there

The late U.S. Senator Everett Dirksen has been frequently misquoted as saying, "A billion here and a billion there and pretty soon you're talking real money." (When asked about the quote, the senator replied, "Oh, I never said that. A newspaper fella misquoted me once, and I thought it sounded so good that I never bothered to deny it.")

And of course it does sound too good to deny, not least because it speaks to the spending habits of the government.

Sandy heads north
On Tuesday, in New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled a $19-plus billion plan to build metropolitan defenses against a time when the city might be struck by a big storm. Global warming has led to rising sea levels and the dangers from a storm like Hurricane Sandy, the most deadly and destructive of the 2012 hurricane season, are still relatively fresh. Costs for Sandy were estimated at $53 billion, an amount only exceeded by the fallout from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Costs associated with Katrina were put at $81 billion.

A billion here and a billion there ...

Repairing the damages from or defending against Mother Nature.

It is hard not to wonder if the billions spent on restoration and defense mechanisms might not be matched with funding that would attack some of the palpable man-made causes of global warming instead of shoring up mechanisms that will not, in all likelihood, work.

Oh well ... I guess then we would be talking about real money.

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