Sunday, April 27, 2014

Can't Win for Losing

After the recent Oso mudslide which killed tens of people and destroyed a whole neighborhood and while the cleanup and search continues the lawsuits are already being filed by homeowners against the county and other agencies who apparently knew of the hazard risk and "didn't do anything" about it.

Well, this is one of those situation between the role of government and the rights of private property owners. They know some in local, state and federal government agencies knew after the the 2006 mudslide another is not just possible but likely.

The question is when and how severe. That no one knew other than the river at the foot of the hillside was slowly creating the environment for another one with every flooding carving into the hillside undercutting the stability of the slope.

Well, this is one of those the government can't win for losing. It doesn't matter what people in the goverment agencies knew, becuase they were doomed no matter what they did and because there was no way to alleviate the damage.

If the government had acted to restrict development in the neighborhood, property owners and especially developers would sue for violating their rights. If the government didn't act, as what happened, they'll be, as they are being, sued for not acting.

If they told property owners about the risk, they'd be criticized as chicken little after the 2006 mudslide. If they didn't tell, they'd be criticized for not telling property owners, and then, you guessed it, be cricitized.

It's the circular arguement against government, blame them for not saying and then blame them when they say. Blame them if they act and then blame them if they don't act. No matter what the government agencies, they lose.

They lose because property owners will always argue their rights for their property over or against anything the government says, proposes or does. This is the standard argument against flood insurance but then against the government when floods happens, blaming the government for over reacting and the asking the government to bail them out of their stupidity.

And these are often the same people who argue their independence against government intervention in their lives and rights, until of course, nature or events prove them wrong, then argue the failure of government and the responsibility to be compensated for their own failure.

Maybe the government officials flipped the proverbial coin after the 2006 mudslide about saying anything and acting, tails the property owners win and heads the government loses. Just be ready when it happens and people want someone else to blame than themselves.

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