Pete Boettke of George Mason University talks about the role of government and voluntary efforts in relieving suffering during and after a crisis such as Katrina. Drawing on field research he is directing into the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Boettke highlights the role of what he calls "civil society"--the informal, voluntary associations we make as individuals with each other to create community.
What is an Austrian economist? Definitions of methodological individualism and market process.
Biology vs. physics. Complex, evolving-systems approach
Main line vs. mainstream. Self-correcting properties of the market
Katrina Project at Mercatus Center: J. S. Mill remarked: it's amazing how speedily countries recover. What conditions contribute to a speedy recovery after a crisis? Free flow of labor and goods. Three aspects like legs of a stool: How robust in the face of disaster are
1. the political and legal structures; 2. the social and cultural structures; 3. the economic and financial structures?
Civil society resiliancy: First effective responders to Katrina were churches, not government. Coping phase. FEMA, local gov't. responses vs. Home Depot, Wal-Mart. Decentralization vs. centralization. Role of knowledge: Hayek, Gettysburg and Robert E. Lee. Wagner, Amtrak v. Edsel. Virginia Hurricane example.
Social capitalism, Emily Chamlee-Wright. Putnam. Role of community. Civil society. Voluntary vs. coerced interactions. Hume. Technology, markets evolve.
"If gov't doesn't do it, it won't get done" is a whole way of thinking. Imperfect alternatives, but which generate better results? Intentions inferred from outcomes. Polanyi, chess example. Adjustments necessary. Creativity within discipline. Grover Cleveland example; if government steps in, private institutions disappear. Government behemoth vs. knowledge of time and place. Russ Sobel.
Does pushing decision-making to state and local level work? New Orleans example--bad public policies. Hirshleifer.
Rebuilding phase after disaster: Does government do better then? Contradictory incentives laid out by government. J. B. Say. Bastiat's Petition by the candle-makers. Individuals who bucked the government have achieved most: school example. Vietnamese community in east New Orleans. Moral hazard. Flood plain: why were those regions developed? Subsidies. Regime uncertainty, conflicting policy.
Rich-poor distinction. Did rich neighborhoods get around regulations better than poor neighborhoods and thus rebuild faster? No. Rich neighborhoods had people with other assets, not just their homes. Flood maps, insurance, out-of-state contractor licensing restrictions.
Eastern Europe. Does moving too quickly to markets fail? Regime uncertainty, incentive-incompatibility. Bucharest anecdote: markets were not allowed to function. Russian ruble exchange example: claimed to be monetarism, but in fact was hyperinflationary, opposite of monetarism's implications. Rhetoric of radical reforms didn't reflect the actual implementations. Fodorov price liberalization suggestion vs. next day conflict from other politicians. Black markets are a consequence of prohibited markets. Russia vs. China.