Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The dangers of disaster mythology and beyond

Widely held misconceptions about post-disaster behavior can shape public policy. The Penumbral Report says assessment of problems after Hurricane Katrina provided a warning:
 ...while a few of the reports of violence or property crimes were true, the vast majority were not.  What does this mean for those who live in urban areas, preppers, law enforcement, civil libertarians and those in disaster management?  There are two main problems with citizens and government both subscribing to the disaster mythology— misallocation of resources and further erosion of civil liberties.  In the case of Hurricane Katrina, we have quite a bit of empirical evidence to show that these two problems caused real damage to real people.
Taking things a step further, the government may have grown impatient waiting for the next disaster. Government now seems to manufacture, or at least greatly exaggerates, domestic threats as it seeks to justify greater and greater levels of surveillance and larger domestic security forces.

Think that's crazy? Yesterday, the FBI warned of alarming trends of anti-government behavior by so-called sovereign citizens. But statistically speaking, it's easy to dispute the kind of urgent threat the government claims.

And don't overlook how the Department of Homeland Security bragged of deploying unprecedented levels of security surrounding the Super Bowl despite no credible threats connected to the event.

Government will continue to make the case for greater and greater needs for policing. But its pitch probably has more to do with building bigger bureaucracies, and obtaining higher levels of control than it does any realistic threats from America's civilian population.

And you can't lay all the blame on bureaucrats. It was our president who, as a candidate, helped put this alarming trend in motion.

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