At today's meeting of the Arizona state Democratic party I bought a button for a dollar from one of the tables. It reads, STUPIDITY: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Clearly it was aimed at the Bush administration (i.e. cut taxes and watch the deficit explode once, or stampede people into war against Iraq and get caught in a guerilla war, and now be crying 'wolf' about Iran.)
It could also apply to levee construction in New Orleans. Many people seem to share Mr. Bush's philosophy, rebuilding directly in the flood area and trusting that divine providence does not send the next Katrina while they are still living there. Further, they are trusting in levees that were inadequate the last time, but are only being funded to be built just as they were before the storm. Al Naomi, a senior project manager for the New Orleans district of the Army Corps of engineers, told US News in June that his proposal entitled, 'Benefits of category 5 Protection: Loss of Life Prevented; Makes evacuation manageable," has yet to be funded-- even for a feasibility study. This is a lot like saying that if the brakes fail on your car and it turns out that there is a defect, they would replace the brakes that failed with an identical set that had the same defect. Maybe I'm missing something, but considering that the Dutch (who also live below sea level) were wise enough to revamp their flood control system with something different after a disastrous 1952 storm, I wonder why we are just building the same levees in the same way that failed already.
The people trying to rebuild everything just as it was, are fools. The effects of global warming on hurricanes aside, simply the law of averages indicates that sooner or later a Katrina size (or bigger) storm will score a direct hit on the city. To gamble that it will be later rather than sooner is indeed a gamble worthy of a fool.