Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Why isn’t Christchurch learning from Joplin?

A few of you have asked me why I’ve still got displayed on my blog the little black panel commemorating Christchurch’s disaster--even though, they say, the disaster was over some time ago.

Was it? Really?

The earthquake was over some time ago, true, although aftershocks still continue.  But what the earthquake failed to do, local and central government have been doing ever since: their decision to place the city on welfare has compounded the natural disaster and turned it into a complete political and economic clusterfuck.

Nearly two-and-a-half years after the Big One—and nearly three years after the Not Quite So Big One—things are still failing to happen, mainly because the agents of governments both central and local have refused to decree that they should. (And, like the commissars of old, decrees from above are the only action they allow.) And while heroic entrepreneurs are moving mountains around those decrees to run businesses and open new ones, the twin megaliths of government move glacially towards their centrally-planned goals, while ignoring both the travails their agents have caused and the hurdles to real improvement they have put in the way.

You’d think someone in the legion of grey ones would have noticed the lessons from places like Joplin, Missouri, which after its own natural disaster in May, 2011 (three months after Christchurch’s Big One) “took the free market route by suspending licensing and zoning regulations and allowing home and business owners to make their own decisions as to when and how they were going to rebuild. No monuments were built in Joplin.”

But Joplin was rebuilt.  As just one metric: “Of the 7,500 homes that were damaged or destroyed … 84 percent have been rebuilt, repaired or permitted for construction … ”

The difference between Joplin and Christchurch can be seen in the Recovery Meter at The Press’s website, which measures the sad state of (what’s impossible to call) progress in Christchurch. For that metric above, instead of 84 percent read just 38%, at best.

When will the tragedy in Christchurch end?


  1. Last I heard, 500 of 25000 major house rebuilds have been completed to date here in ChCh.

  2. Here's something you'll find interesting about the Japanese earthquake/tsunami/nuclear incident...

    No one died and no one got radiation sickness due to the Fukushima plant problems. But

    About 1000 deaths have been attributed to evacuations. About 90 per cent were people older than 66, who suffered from the trauma of evacuation and living in shelters. Sadly, those of them who left areas where radiation was no greater than in naturally high background areas would have been better off staying.


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