Comparing Natural and Man-Made Disasters

November 17th, 2013
in Op Ed, syndication

Written by

John Cassidy recently wrote a piece in The New Yorker in which he argued that the Obamacare roll-out mess was no Hurricane Katrina for President Obama. But after going through six reasons why he makes his claim, Cassidy is left with a concessionary final statement about the ACA (Affordable Care Act) mess:

"But the story’s ending has yet to be written."


Follow up:

Is it really reasonable to compare natural and man-made dissasters? Cassidy uses as one of his arguments that Katrina killed 1,833 people in the span of a few days and such an outcome is much different than the screw-up which arguably hasn't killed anyone after six weeks.


But if the effects are integrated over a long time period could the toll from Katrina pale in comparison to healthcare foregone because people were unable to get insurance coverage from a non-functioning HIX (health insurance exchange)?

If this mess is not straightened out and the lost insurance coverage that might have been is not restored, how many thousands or tens of thousands of lives will be sacrificed on an alter of inefficiency and incompetency?

Katrina after six weeks and Obamacare after six weeks - how do you compare? There is not an apparent metric with which to proceed in making an assessment.

But I have found one pair of disasters which do have a valid comparative metric. The natural disaster is Super Storm Sandy and the man-made disaster is the recent government shutdown. Just look at the following graph of initial unemployment claims:


In the terms of people losing jobs these two disasters are quite comparable. If anything the shutdown had a bigger effect on job losses. And the blue curve has to come down faster than it has thus far to keep the current "recovery" from being weaker than it was after Sandy.

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