Should government help flood victims?

Two items on the flood patrol today.

First, the Minnesota State Patrol has posted some images of the flooding on Facebook. This is the St. Clair water treatment plant, which is currently encircled.


On a more political front, Ed Lotterman, the Pioneer Press business writer, brings up what few have mentioned, so far — politicians calling for less government, turning to government in the wake of the flooding in Minnesota.

However, nothing in the Constitution authorizes the federal government to tax the general populace to help a few hurt by natural events. Nor did the feds do much of this until recent decades. There was virtually no federal aid after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. During the 1927 floods in the lower Mississippi valley, federal action was largely limited to politicians exhorting the citizenry to give money to the Red Cross and other private charities to carry out relief.

This is not to say that individual states should not decide to help flood victims if their voters wish. But they should be aware that such assistance creates incentives for people to continue to build and live in areas where nature says they should not.