Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Economic Decisions-Paul Musgrave "ripped Glenn Reynolds a new one" on some gloating over the European heat wave deaths
FACTOID OF THE DAY: Bill Quick looks at the death toll from the Paris heat wave and remarks: "Why, that's almost twice as many as the number of US troops killed in Iraq. Send in the UN!" It's the "brutal Parisian summer." Did Robert Fisk warn us about that? UPDATE: A couple of readers seem to think I'm gloating at the fact that people in Paris are dying from the heat. No. I just think it brings a little perspective to the -- genuine -- gloating we're seeing from some antiwar folks about "massive" U.S. casualties.
Let's take this very slowly. People...dying...from...heatstroke...are...not...dying...because...of...a...decision...somebody...made. Soldiers...dying...in...Iraq...are...dying...because...they...were...ordered...there. There is no comparison, none whatsoever, to be made between heatstroke and the war in Iraq. Further, since Ipundit and his ilk are unconcerned--or at least, not moved to "witty" observations--when Americans die from heatstroke in summer or no heat in winter, I don't know why he's bringing this up.
Paul is three-quarters correct in that schadenfreude isn't godly. However, people are dying from heatstroke because of decisions people made. In moderate climates, like France normally is, air conditioners are something of a luxury, for few summer days are hot enough to need it. For instance, up in Michigan where I grew up, not everyone had air conditioners, for we had only a handful of high-80s or 90 degree days that called for air conditioners. Here in Florida, where we have 90-degree days as standard fare for half the year, air conditioners are standard equipment. The decisions that helped kill off these people (indirectly, mind you, nothing that can get Mitterand or Chirac convicted) are the decision to stick with a large, socialist-oriented public sector and the high taxes to pay for it. A faster-growing economy would have allowed people to have more money to buy more household appliances, including air conditioners. A comparable heat wave in Chicago or Detroit will kill off some overheated oldsters, but fewer than in Paris, since American blue-collar neighborhoods will be more likely to have air conditioners than a comparably plebian Parisian 'hood. Is that a cheap shot at the French? Yes, but a fair one.

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