Of Quakes and Cultures

Thank goodness there have been no reported injuries or deaths resulting from the east-coast earthquake earlier today. I haven’t checked in with anybody I know there, but I hope for the best. There has been some structural damage, apparently of a relatively minor sort.

As we breathe a sigh of relief that, apparently, the damage was limited, we may turn to some of the cultural implications of the quake.

1. I wonder how long it will take for Islamists to interpret the earthquate as Alah’s displeasure with the U.S.? Or how long it will take American evangelicals to see in the quake rumblings of God’s discontent?

2. An earthquake, indeed, any form of destruction, is seen as “stimulating” the economy, according to many of today’s Keynesians. (Witness Paul Krugman’s comments about the “stimulating” effects of a hypothetical alien invasion.) But the French economist Frederic Bastiat offered the correct economic analysis back in 1850. As common sense suggests, destruction harms economic productivity.

3. While environmentalists like to blame all sorts of natural catastrophes on human-caused “global warming,” the earthquake reminds us that the planet does a fine job of threatening human life and prosperity, all on its own. As people, we should produce wealth to keep us safe from the ravages of nature, not worship nature as some sort of god.

4. Hurray, capitalism! Because we’re so wealthy, we can afford to build quality structures that can withstand earthquakes.

5. I love how Americans use humor to maintain good spirits. The first image I saw of the “destruction” is this one, making light of the quake. (Of course, this is only appropriate because the quake wasn’t too destructive.) On Twitter, people joked about how the left would blame the right for the quake and vice versa. One guy joked that the quake is actually the Founders finally rolling in their graves. I enjoy this “We can’t be beat” attitude. (To take another example, recently David Letterman mocked the Islamist threats against him.)

So we’ll keep hoping we don’t hear of more substantial problems.