In Case of Emergency, Read This Blog

In Case Of Emergency, Read Blog

A Citizen’s Eye View of Public Preparedness

New Study Indicates Voters Reward Politicians Who Push Disaster Relief Not Disaster Preparedness

August 5th, 2008 · 1 Comment

When most of us think of what we should be doing to prepare for disasters, we often forget that exercising our role as citizens and voters can be as important as the more well known tasks like storing emergency supplies or creating a communications plan. 

That point is underscored by an intriguing new study,  “Preferring A Pound of Cure to an Ounce of Prevention: Voting, Natural Disasters, and Government Response” by Andrew J. Healy, an economics professor at Loyola Marymount University.

By studying data on natural disasters, government spending and election returns, Healy found that “voters reward disaster relief spending but not disaster prevention spending.” As he further concludes: “This aspect of voter behavior creates a large distortion in the incentives that governments face, since data show that prevention spending substantially reduces future damage.”

The study helps explain why emergency preparedness does not receive enough attention by elected officials — because their constituents do not raise the subject with them nor make it a criterion for their support in the voting booth. (While, by contrast, we do reward politicians who lobby for financial assistance after the disaster, often when some advance preparedness would have limited the damage.)

To me, Healy’s conclusions also help explain why in a political system where every conceivable issue and interest group has at least one champion, there is no major elected official identified with the issue of citizen preparedness. Rectifying the relationships that Healy’s regressions have found must be done if the U.S. is to develop a more balanced, rational and effective disaster policy. So, this election year, ask your candidates about public emergency preparedness and then make sure to factor their answers into deciding who you reward with your vote. (Hat tip to Freaknomics Blog)

These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Technorati

Tags: Preparedness Lessons

1 response so far ↓

Leave a Comment