Regarding the Sept. 23 article, "After Katrina, a quest for better insurance": It's time that federal and state governments get their act together and fix the huge problem of largely unrestricted large-scale development in high-risk areas - before the problem gets even worse. Building in areas prone to mudslides, on unprotected flood plains, on barrier islands, and in areas prone to wildfire should be heavily discouraged.
Neither taxpayers nor rate payers, through insurance premiums, should be required to foot the bill for people who choose to build, develop, or live in high-risk areas. I do not want federal money to be used to rebuild unwise developments in low-lying areas of southern Louisiana and southern coastal areas that will flood again. Why should taxpayers and insurance payers be expected to assume the risk for people who build without reasonable regard for risk? The only acceptable use of public money is to buy property from residents in the affected areas and transfer the land to the US National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management.
In response to the Sept. 29 article, "Storms revive energy debate": Any energy policy that does not focus primarily on greater efficiency in consumption and use of renewable energy is shortsighted. Oil and gas are inherently dangerous substances whose extraction, storage, and transport will create pollution, in case of both natural and man-made (terrorist) disasters. Renewable sources don't have these problems. Besides helping the US now, learning to be more energy efficient would give America a leg up in future economic competition with countries around the world.
Regarding John Hughes's Sept. 28 Opinion column, "If we weren't hurricane-ready, what about a terrorist attack?": Likening the US's response to a natural disaster to its possible response to a terrorist attack is like comparing apples and bunny rabbits. The circumstances of each situation are not even close to similar. First of all, the most recent natural disasters were forecast several days in advance, and states' preparation remained lacking. Article I, section 8, clause 15 of the Constitution says the federal government has authority in the event of "invasion"; beyond that the states have responsibility.
A terrorist attack would be an invasion, so the federal government has powers under such circumstance that it does not have in a natural disaster. If the states don't declare a state of emergency and cede power to the central government, and the government acts without authority, then the Constitution is violated. People calling for the heads of federal government to act immediately in the wake of natural disaster should reread the Constitution and then begin to take responsibility.
The Sept. 21 Home Forum essay, "His strengths were revealed under the hood" should be required reading for every elementary schoolteacher in America. Patty Pickard's remedial sixth-grade student showed amazing talent in fixing her automobile engine. If schools looked for and rewarded the strengths and talents in each student, such negative terms as learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder would disappear.
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