Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Over at Free Republic, someone just posted a plug for a GOP congressional candidate named Ben Lange, declaring that one of the wonderful things about him is this:

He is definitely who he claims to be -- a genuine conservative alternative to the lib Braley. In fact, Lange recently came out against federal funding for rebuilding a dam in his OWN district because the dam is privately owned and sits on a recreational lake. How refreshing is that? That takes balls.

In fact, Lange does oppose federal funding to repair the storm-damaged Lake Delhi dam, unlike the incumbent he's running against, Bruce Braley. His reasoning almost makes sense:

The Lake Delhi Recreation Association owned and maintained the dam, which was 88 years old.

Members paid an additional $4 per $1,000 of assessed taxable property valuation to support operation of the structure as well.

But Braley's Republican challenger, Ben Lange, an attorney in Independence, said Monday he didn't think the federal government's functions include assisting rebuilding a privately owned dam.

Private entities and state and local governments should shoulder that responsibility, Lange said.

"Despite the political pressure to reach an alternative conclusion, I simply do not believe the federal government should be involved with this local issue because it is a privately owned dam on a recreational lake," Lange said in a prepared statement.

The problem is, the water unleashed after the dam was damaged was not as respectful of the public-private boundary line:

The Monticello Water Treatment plant is also recovering from major flooding damage caused by the dam breach....

The plant has been inoperable since Saturday - and residents are being asked to conserve water....

The city estimates that it'll cost at least $4,000 to repair....


Sen. Tom Harkin ... met with local officials and property owners, including Lake Delhi Recreation Association President Jim Willey and dam manager Dave Fink.

"I saw a lot of farmland damage, a lot of houses downstream and I looked at the lake -- the former lake," he said. "Basically, it's a catastrophic event for those people. It's not just the homeowners on the lake because it affects the whole county because of the (property) tax base." The homes around the nine-mile lake on the Maquoketa River accounted for about 8.5 percent of Delaware County's property tax base.

Harkin has no firm estimate of the damage to public infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and public buildings, or to private homes and other private structures....

Harkin toured fields with farmer Joe Hoeger of Hopkinton, who showed him how the river had widened at least 15 feet and covered 70 to 80 acres of his land. Hoeger said he won't know until he tries to harvest his crops whether they are salvageable. He and Harkin talked about conservation programs that may provide assistance in restoring those fields....

Oh, and it turns out that the feds had already decided that it was appropriate for them to repair the dam -- in 2008, during the administration of that Kenyan commie George W. Bush. Repairs of damage sustained that year were still under way when the new damage happened.

Lange's opposition to government involvement in this case is Randianism run amok. Bodies of water don't respect libertarians' notions of public and private -- when they flood, they affect communities, not just parcels of privately owned property.

I'm reminded of the way, a century or so ago, a lot of people thought that if airborne disease agents spread in tenement neighborhoods, that wasn't a public health issue -- that was the tenement dwellers' problem. Unfortunately, diseases didn't necessarily give a crap about distinctions between upstanding citizens and "the other half."

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