I have absolutely no idea how much $$$ it would have taken to make the New Orleans levee system tolerant of category 5 hurricane. Maybe the money bag that Bush and friends diverted to Iraq would've been enough. Maybe it would have taken several pork barrels. In any case, within a few hours of the public identifying an actual public need, more money than would have been necessary to update the levees rolled into the coffers of various private charities. Unfortunately, that money now has to be used to fix people's lives instead of just an earthen dam.
Still, I wonder. Would the public have donated money to a fund designed to shore up the levees before the catastrophe? Are they also as penny-wise and pound-foolish as the federal government? While the government holds a monopoly on "public goods" I suppose not, but it sure would be neat to find out.