Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thought for Thursday - To Gamble and Lose

I really do enjoy heading over to Harrah's every once in a while. I love the Tabasco dollar slots and I really love a good game of black jack. I tell you what though, I hate to lose. At our house, we call losing paying our Harrah's tax. Losing - it's a risk I'm willing to take because I have weighed the options of being out 20 bucks versus winning $250. Having some familiarity with the decisions it takes to be willing to risk something, I have started to ponder over one now infamous gamble that the Army Corps of Engineers chose to take.

For the past four years, the people of New Orleans (and our adopted son Brad Pitt) have been shouting from our rooftops, no pun intended, that the aftermath of Katrina was in no way related to a natural disaster. It was in ALL respects a man-made tragedy, and one that could have been prevented. We weathered the storm; we did not weather the collapse of the government built and maintained levee systems intended to protect our dear city. For years it has seemed that our voices have been quieted to the point where most have fallen silent.


"In a groundbreaking decision, a federal judge ruled late Wednesday that the Army Corps of Engineers' mismanagement of maintenance at the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet was directly responsible for flood damage in St. Bernard Parish and the Lower 9th Ward after Hurricane Katrina. The failure of the Corps to recognize the destruction that the MRGO had caused and the potential hazard that it created is clearly negligent on the part of the Corps," said U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval Jr. in his ruling. "Furthermore, the Corps not only knew, but admitted by 1988, that the MRGO threatened human life ... and yet it did not act in time to prevent the catastrophic disaster that ensued with the onslaught of Hurricane Katrina."

In my opinion the Corps made the decision that it would rather risk the cost of losing one of America's great cities than paying the cost to protect it. Well the stakes just got raised, my friends. According to the Times Picayune "Duval's 156-page decision could result in the federal government paying $700,000 in damages to three people and a business in those areas, but also sets the stage for judgments worth billions of dollars against the government for damages suffered by as many as 100,000 other residents, businesses and local governments in those areas who filed claims with the corps after Katrina." With all the chips on the table, it looks like the Corps will have to fold it up. This was one gamble they should have considered a little more closely.

And so it appears that the Army Corps will have to pay it's Harrah's tax. They seemed to forget the most basic of gambling principles, "The house always wins."

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